COAL CREEK CANYON – The Nicolellas aren't complaining. They still have their house. Not all of their neighbors are so fortunate. But they would like a way to get to it.
The historic floods of September 2013 washed away the wooden bridge Mike and KT Nicolella used to drive to their home in Coal Creek Canyon.
For the last six months, their only access to their house has been on foot over a hastily-built wooden footbridge.
"I always wanted a footbridge," Mike said wryly. "But not under these circumstances."
Of all the inconveniences of not being able to pull up to their house, the Nicolellas say grocery shopping is one of the most aggravating.
"It changes your shopping habits," KT said. "You think twice before you put it in your cart. You pick it up and weigh it and think, nope, I don't want it that much!"
"Kitty litter is the worst," Mike said. "They're heavy boxes."
That weight has been lifted by the most unusual of allies: Denver International Airport.
A graveyard of 14-ton concrete culverts were sitting unused in a field near the airport. The $5,000 culverts were leftover by an old project.
DIA sold the Nicolellas all four of the culverts for only $10. They were just the right size.
The Colorado Department of Transportation says the DIA culverts go in faster and work just as well as custom ones.
DIA has given away more than 100 of the concrete culverts to municipalities recovering from last year's floods. They have more. Homeowners and businesses who could use one should contact their local planning office.
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