A pair of runners ignore a "Trail Closed" sign and barricade on the Coal Creek Trail, near Elysian Field Drive in Lafayette.
A pair of runners ignore a "Trail Closed" sign and barricade on the Coal Creek Trail, near Elysian Field Drive in Lafayette. (Doug Pike / Colorado Hometown Weekly)

Six weeks.

That's how long Coal Creek Trail users were able to enjoy the regional East Boulder County connector in its entirety before the September flood of 2013 decimated the recreational path.

The eastern link of the trail — leading from Lafayette to Erie — opened on Aug. 1 and barely saw any footprints or tire tracks before the surging water washed it away.

Roughly a year later, residents from Superior to Erie could have their local trail back. Work to rebuild much of the path officially begins this month.

On March 25, the Erie Board of Trustees approved a $199,458 agreement with 53 Corporation LLC for repairs to the southern segment of the Coal Creek Trail within town limits. The segment is south of Vista Parkway and north of Baseline Road.

"During the September flood events, the trail and pedestrian bridges all along Coal Creek were damaged," said Erie's deputy Public Works director Russell Pennington. "Up until now, we've repaired the (damaged trails) north of Vista Parkway, but we still have an area just south of Vista Parkway that needs reconstructed. The trail through there was destroyed, as was a drop structure and a head gate structure for the Erie Coal Creek ditch, which the town is the major shareholder in."

The drop structure repair is critical for stabilizing Coal Creek as the damage prevents proper water diversion.

"Water is actually going underneath the drop structure instead of over it as it should," Pennington said.

While the drop structure and a pedestrian bridge along the Erie segment were destroyed, the taxiway underpass at Erie Municipal Airport was surprisingly left intact.

"The taxiway underpass did quite well. The structure, as far as ... what the planes use, did phenomenally well," Pennington said. "The trail throughout that whole area didn't fare as well."

Erie, like the other communities on the Coal Creek corridor , will get 75 percent of the trail project paid for by FEMA, with the town and the state splitting the remaining 25 percent.

A paved section of the Coal Creek Trail still leads to nowhere near the trailhead on Public Road in Lafayette, thanks to flood damage.
A paved section of the Coal Creek Trail still leads to nowhere near the trailhead on Public Road in Lafayette, thanks to flood damage. (Doug Pike / Colorado Hometown Weekly)

Erie also obtained a $20,000 construction grant as well as a $5,000 design grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board to be used to offset the town's 12.5 percent share of the total project.

Erie's repair work is scheduled to begin early this month, with completion expected sometime in July.

Louisville also contracted last month for its trail repairs. Louisville City Council on March 18 approved a $398,296 contract with Goodland Construction, Inc.

The contract dictates all work in the base bid will be completed in four months. That does not include the underpass at Dillon Road, which is being completed by the Federal Highway Administration concurrently with Coal Creek Golf Course reconstruction.

Ninety-five percent of the 4-mile stretch of trail in Louisville — between U.S. 36 and Lafayette — was damaged, according to Diana Trettin, the city's capital improvement project manager.

Trettin said the trail won't be rerouted from its original path.

"FEMA didn't want us to do any rerouting," she said. "We'll put the trail back to its original condition."

Trettin said construction will begin in mid-April, with "substantial completion" by September.

The timeline will largely be dictated by the amount of unauthorized trail use the area gets, Louisville City Manager Malcolm Fleming said.

"We are sending out information to all adjacent property owners; we have signage on the trail, we have barricades on the trail," Fleming said. "Violations may result in fines up to $1,000.

"We've talked to the police department regarding enforcement and they will start some bike patrols in the area. They'll start with warnings, but if there are repeat violations there will be fines. We do need to get serious about this because it's a serious issue for people's safety and for the replanting areas ... on virtually the entire length of the trail."

Superior, which is home to the shortest trail segment of the four municipalities that the Coal Creek Trail passes through, finished work on its 1,400-foot stretch of the trail late last year. The town approved a $65,775 contract with Vargas Property Services, Inc. in October and saw the trail work completed before Christmas.

A cyclist skirts a trail barricade and a "Trail Closed" sign on the Coal Creek Trail in Lafayette, near Elysian Field Drive.
A cyclist skirts a trail barricade and a "Trail Closed" sign on the Coal Creek Trail in Lafayette, near Elysian Field Drive. (Doug Pike / Colorado Hometown Weekly)

In Superior, the Coal Creek Trail runs from U.S. 36 to McCaslin Boulevard.

"So many people use that segment to get to Monarch High School or up to (Avista Adventist Hospital), so we wanted to get that done as soon as possible," Superior Assistant Town Manager Martin Toth said. "I think some of the other jurisdictions opted to wait a little longer for their (FEMA) numbers, but we just went ahead and did the work and got reimbursed."

Lafayette also has completed some reconstruction work in-house and reopened stretches of the trail within its city limits, though much of the path remains closed.

The city is working to complete the stretch of trail from Elysian Field Drive to U.S. 287.

"Where the trail goes under 120th Street and also at the South Public Road trailhead, there's still some work to be done," said Lafayette spokeswoman Debbie Wilmot. "What they're working on right now is a way to get users over the top of the road in those locations, rather than under. But that will just be a temporary solution."

Lafayette has contracted with Merrick and Co. for the design of the new underpasses at those two locations.

"When the reroutes are in place over Public Road and 120th Street, we'll contract for work on the underpasses," Lafayette Open Space Superintendent Monte Stevenson said. "We're in the design phase now, and we'll put that out to bid in a couple weeks.

"If the weather holds out, we'll have the entire trail open by late spring," Stevenson added. "We couldn't wait (for FEMA funds), we just wanted to go."