Governor, Aurora Mayor seek public input on future of heavily used High Line Canal, path

Photo via Greag Hobbs March 29, 2015.
Photo via Greag Hobbs March 29, 2015.

From TheDenverChannel.com (Lance Hernandez):

The 66-mile long High Line Canal was originally built in the 1880s for irrigation purposes. It was initially 71 miles long.

Denver Water, which owns the canal, serves 30 customers. Fairmont Cemetery is the one farthest down the line.

While the canal may not carry as much water these days, the adjoining tree-lined path is often packed with people riding bikes, jogging or walking in the shade.

The High Line Canal Conservancy, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect, preserve and enhance the legacy canal, estimates that a half million people use the canal’s path system for recreational purposes every year…

But there are questions about how much longer the shade trees, many of them Cottonwoods, might last.

“They’re all over 100 years old,” said Dave Lorenz, a Conservancy board member.

Lorenz told Denver7 that there is an issue with water.

He said Denver Water routinely sent water downstream as far as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal until a few years ago.

Now water shipments are more infrequent…

He said once the trees die out, they would have to be replaced and added that young trees need frequent watering.

Lorenz said a Conservancy study group is looking at options.

“We’re working with Urban Drainage and Flood Control to see if some rain run-off could be channeled into the canal,” he said. “I’m a little concerned about that, because how many storms do we have in Colorado where we have sufficient run-off that goes in the canal?”

Lorenz said his second concern is that “Under Colorado law, the water has to be released in 72 hours.”

Lorenz said if the canal ends up dry, then they discuss whether to use the canal as a walking path, while leaving the trail for bikes.

“There may be other options,” he said.

High Line Canal

The entire 71-mile-long trail spans several jurisdictions.

Lorenz told Denver7 that he’d like to see it brought under one jurisdiction for maintenance purposes.

Some sections of the trail are paved with concrete, some with asphalt, and others, like the 19 miles in the South Suburban Recreational District, are just hard-packed gravel.

Many bike riders like it that way.

“You don’t have the high-speed road bikes,” on the gravel sections, which have to be shared with pedestrians, people walking dogs or pushing strollers,” Escalante said.

“Most of the people I’ve spoken with want it to remain gravel,” Lorenz said.

Soulsby told Denver7 she’d like to see some improvements at some busy intersections.

“It would be nice if they had more underpasses or overpasses,” she said, “so you could kind of keep going instead of getting stuck in traffic.”

She mentioned the East Yale Avenue/South Holly Street intersection which is choked with constant traffic.

Lorenz said the work group is studying several intersections and looking for possible fixes.

To learn more about the Conservancy and the upcoming planning initiative, click on this link: http://highlinecanal.org/

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