DENVER (CBS4) – Hikers, bikers and fishermen will have to wait even longer to enjoy a popular recreation area.

Waterton Canyon was shut down nearly a year and a half ago so Denver Water could begin a dredging project at Strontia Springs Reservoir. The reopening of the canyon now won’t happen until March, two months later than first promised.

For thousands of outdoor enthusiasts the closure of Waterton Canyon 17 months ago was like losing an old friend.

“For the interest of public safety the canyon will open March 1, weather permitting,” Stacy Chesney with Denver Water said.

The dredging project was necessary to remove sediment from wildfires. Denver Water originally estimated 625,000 cubic yards of material would have be removed. To date, the contractor has only removed less than half — 288,000 cubic yards, according to Chesney.

“At this point the job is done. We were successful in reducing the ash residuals that were causing water quality concerns,” Chesney said.

As CBS4 previously reported, the $29 million project was plagued by mechanical problems. Denver originally promised the canyon would reopen to the public at the end of 2011.

“We know people are chomping at the bit to get back to Waterton Canyon,” Chesney said.

Chesney says even if the weather cooperates and the canyon does reopen March 1 it will close again temporarily during the spring to give the contractor three weeks to remove the dredge once the ice melts on the reservoir.

Financial penalties could be assessed if the project wasn’t finished on time. Chesney said she couldn’t comment on that possibility because of an ongoing dispute with the dredging contractor.


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