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Neighbors wonder if bridge's destruction during flood was preventable

By Emily Allen, Multimedia Journalist /Target 13 Investigator , emily.allen@krdo.com
Published On: Aug 05 2013 02:24:53 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 05 2013 05:44:57 PM CDT

Neighbors wonder if destroyed bridge was preventable

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -

Neighbors in one Black Forest neighborhood wondered Monday if El Paso County could have done more before Sunday's flood to save their bridge.

Flood waters combined with mud and debris destroyed Casey Lane neighborhood's bridge. It was four families' only way out. 

The Black Forest Fire Department set up a temporary road through two homeowners' lots for people stranded from the washed out bridge.

"We never expected it to get like this.  We've been amazed by the last couple weeks of rain," said Trish Grihalva.

Grihalva's yard was turned into a makeshift road to help neighbors get out.

Grihalva watched debris and mud clog the culvert near her home in minutes. Water was forced over the top of the gravel road. The road was no match for the flood water's force.

Grihalva has lived on Casey Lane for 16 years. She never saw severe flooding like this until after the Black Forest Fire.

"The culvert is very deep and it's usually just a very small stream so we've never had it come up like that," said Grihalva.

"It's not shocking to me," said one Casey Lane resident who wished to remain anonymous. "They knew that pipe was rotten. If they knew that pipe was rotten, they would have known that that was going to go sometime."

The man said El Paso County knew the bridge was vulnerable. The county has surveyed the bridge after recent floods.

"The county came over, they looked at it, and I asked them about cleaning (the culvert) out and they said they didn't have the right type of equipment and they're looking for a contractor and it would take them a week," said the neighbor.

He said the county normal does an excellent job with maintenance along Casey Lane. He was frustrated the bridge wasn't a top priority.

"They knew about it, a good two weeks ahead of time. And I think they should have done something about it then," said the man.

El Paso County said the culvert's pipe collapsed before the floods. It says there were no preventative steps that could have saved the bridge.

The county was deciding if it should hire a contractor to fix the bridge. It said Sunday's events made the decision for them.

El Paso County will hire a contractor to repair the road. It could not give an estimate on how long it will take to hire a contractor. It said it will likely take one to two weeks for the contractor to repair the road.

"I do have a business in my home and so it could create quite a problem for me if I'm not able to have people come and go easily," said Grihalva. "I would like to get it fixed as soon as possible."

El Paso County previously said it would watch flood patterns to see if a flood mitigation plan was necessary. After this weekend's flood, it's moving forward with coming up with a plan.

The county will work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to survey the damage. It will use that information to help create its flood mitigation plan. The county said results from the survey will be released in a few weeks.

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