Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring/Summer 2024

The third package introduced a district approach to streamlining the campus’s energy consumption. Rather than each of the campus’ many buildings having heating and cooling as buildingspecific systems, a closed network of pipes circulates warm water from the Central Utility Plant (CUP) to all campus facilities simultaneously. A key cog in the process is the Delgany Sanitary Sewer Interceptor, an innovative renewable energy resource that harvests heat energy from the sanitary sewer. A wet well was installed where wastewater is pulled from the sewer main into the CUP where it is circulated through a biosolids separator. Heat is transferred to outbound clean water pipes serving the energy district to streamline energy consumption campuswide. “The fourth bid package involved paving about 20 acres of new stock yards with electrical and water supply integrated beneath the asphalt. New wash racks provide warm water for washing cows at dawn in January. The ranchers dry them using electric hair dryers to fluff up the cattle before they show them,” says Gross of perhaps the most amusing form of infrastructure ever considered – the cow salon. “The last package was 51st Avenue Bridge over the South Platte and a park on the east side of the river where we incorporated a collection of salvaged artifacts to share some of the site’s history with the public.” Asked about the challenges in executing all of this, Gross points to the intense scheduling complications of delivering these scopes through the pandemic and subsequent economic fallout. Not only was the work on the line but seemingly, so was the future of the stock show. “When COVID hit, Mayor Hancock canceled the 2021 Stock Show,” says Gross, of days and woes everyone remembers well enough on their own. “There was also a series of hurricanes, pricing went through the roof on almost everything, and the supply chain struggled in several ways. Meanwhile, with the 2021 show canceled, those vendors and dollars went to a show in Oklahoma. If we couldn’t get it open for the 2022 show, there was a possibility Denver could lose the event altogether. So, it was almost like moving heaven and earth to get this done in time.” Beyond the magnitude and importance, the site had a few typical concerns as well, beginning with the earth part of the equation. Given the site’s adjacency to the South Platte and quasi-industrial nature of more than a century during hardscrabble times, contaminated soils and high groundwater weren’t a surprise. “In some places, we were facing groundwater flows of up to 600 gallons a minute, which required a tremendous treatment chain to process,” says Gross. “Likewise, a significant amount of the site soils contained various contaminated materials and had to be hauled off.” In thinking ahead, the National Western’s new infrastructure accounts for the cows and cowboys with the same sort of forethought that brought the stock show together in the first place. “The new stockyards are designed so that when the yard is in use or being cleaned, the runoff is diverted to the sanitary sewer. When the yards are clean and empty that runoff goes into a detention pond and eventually to the South Platte River.” As the sun sets on another Denver day, the people of Colorado are back to getting it done, and the to-do list is full. The Western Stock Show Association Legacy Building is racing towards completion this year and more than two million square feet of new indoor and outdoor spaces are planned in the years to come. Asked what the most important thing he would want readers to know about all of this, Gross is succinct. “I go back to the first stock show in 1906,” concludes Gross. “Whether it’s Ames or anybody else, we can all take pride in being a part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s the Colorado way.”