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Hine Lake Fishing Pier


The goals of this project were to determine the cause for the failure of an
existing pier at Hine Lake in Littleton, CO and design an ADA compliant pier that
addresses these concerns. Our proposed solution is to build a double-platform
floating pier on the north side of Hine Lake. Because we found the primary
cause of failure to be wind loading on the piers, selecting this new location is a
vital component to the longevity of the pier. Likewise, we chose to use two
platforms because we wanted keep slopes to a minimum and create a pier that
is comfortable for all users while looking aesthetically pleasing.

ADA compliance was important for this project because residents of a nearby
neurological rehabilitation facility are expected to be frequent pier users. For
this reason, we also designed an ADA compliant graded path and parking lot on
the north side of the lake. Additionally, our design features nature play
modifications like park benches, shady trees, colorful and fragrant plants, and a
landscaped access to the lake shore.

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Team Members

  • Dylan Waters
  • Michael Sowards
  • Heaven McKinley
  • Michael Kush
  • Rylan Eller

The Client

  • Foothills Parks & Recreation District
    • Sean Kitners


The Topwater Troubadours would like to acknowledge Sean Kitners and the rest of the team at Foothills Parks & Recreation District for their responsiveness, availability, and helpful feedback throughout the entire process. A thank you to the teams advisors that helped give direction in design, calculation, and overall approach to the teams innovation that included Professor Jim Wong, Dr. Kristoph Kinzli, and Dr. Andres Guerra. Thank you to Dr. Alexandra Wayllace for granting the team access to the soil lab facilities on campus. The team would also like to thank Michael Yost and Matthew Yost for their help in producing our site video. And last, but not least, the Topwater Troubadours would like to thank Lisa Woodward for doing an outstanding job with giving guidance to our team and encouraging creativity.

Project Advisor: Lisa Woodward, P.E.

Technical Advisors: Dr. Andres Guerra, Dr. Kristoph Kinzli, Dr. Alexandra Wayllace, Professor Jim Wong


Elevator Pitch

Hello, we’re the Topwater Troubadours and we worked with Foothills Parks & Recreation to develop the design for a new fishing pier at the Hine Lake Park, in Littleton Colorado. This project required us to first investigate an old pier on the site that had failed and determine the causes so that we could improve on the design for a new pier. This design would be more accessible and usable to the community. 

One of the main challenges that we faced in designing this new pier was the fact that the water level in Hine Lake sees a lot of fluctuation. This meant that a traditional, fully fixed pier would be several feet above the water in a low water condition, and a floating pier would create slopes that exceed standards set by ADA.

To be compliant with ADA standards and adhere to the significant water level fluctuation a dynamic innovation was drawn up to meet the requirements and take stakeholders into consideration. The design consists of a floating platform when water levels are relatively high that settles into a rigid structure when water levels drop. 

This project also included a site work portion in which the team designed a new parking lot and a revitalization of the existing trail to the lake to make it ADA compliant. The team worked on making the site more aesthetically pleasing, educational, and usable to everyone in the community. 

In order to meet these goals the project also included some nature play elements that encourage proper use, activity, and a better experience for those that are using the pier and surrounding amenities. Also taking the piers environmental impact into consideration signage was made to give basic rules for the area and provides information about endangered species in the area.

Design Approach

The process that was taken to come up with our innovative design initially consisted of communicating with our client and stakeholders. This mainly consisted of pursuing an understanding of the question as to why the old pier wanted to be replaced rather than just taken down. Additionally, figuring out all the pros and cons of the old design to help our team get an upper hand in designing the new replacement. Some key inputs were found to be exceptionally helpful in this endeavor  from our client and stakeholders. The first one that was from our client consisted of wanting a design that gave the user an exceptional experience. To implement this, our team looked into what fundamentals gave piers good experiences. It was found that piers floating on the water give the best experience, especially when doing activities like fishing or bird watching. The second factor that was very influential was a stakeholder and the input was about the location. The old pier was in front of a small cul-de-sac which caused parking issues for the residents. To take these local stakeholders into consideration the location of the new pier was moved from the east side to the north side. 


After receiving our client and stakeholders inputs the idea of making a new innovative design started to form shape. This combined with federal requirements, specifically giving an emphasis with ADA requirements influenced the design significantly. The original idea of the design was going to be a simple gangway and floating platform design which was a generic design. This was a problem due to the desired length of the pier and it being in compliance with ADA slope. To overcome this an additional floating platform was implemented to help ease the slope of the gangways. This extra floating platform adds aesthetics and makes for an overall better user experience.


There was one more thing that the design of the pier needed to take into consideration, especially because the pier will be floating on the water. This consideration needs to take into account that the lake’s water level changes drastically. This caused many problems from structural concerns to making sure the pier is always in compliance with ADA. To structurally support floating platforms and gangways that are constantly changing elevation in the vertical direction cylindrical tubes will be used. These tubes will be positioned vertically and held by actual concrete piers while using collars to attach the vertical tubes to the floating portions. There will be multiple of these vertical tubes and concrete piers surrounding the floating platforms to give level stability for the users. A convenient thing to this addition in the design is that with the vertical  piers and tubes give the overall pier resistance with wind loading as it counters the moments that would be created otherwise. Additionally, to be compliant with ADA standards the geometry was set up for the entire pier to actually sit on top of the concrete piers when the water level is low. This allowed us to set the max slope of the piers gangways and turn the pier into just a normal ridged design with low water levels.

Design Solution

Because of the large variations in the water level that is present at Hine Lake, our solution utilizes both floating platforms and two pinned gangways in order to maximize contact with the water’s surface. 

On the north shore of Hine Lake, there will be a concrete abutment installed. Pinned to this structure will be the first of two aluminum gangways. Connected to that gangway, by pins, is the first of two floating platforms. Pin connections allow the gangway to change in angle, thus allowing the floating platform to adapt in elevation. The second gangway and floating platform is then connected to the first platform in a similar fashion.

In scenarios where the water level is high, the pier is designed to float on the surface and provide a fishing experience that is close to the water. As water is drained from the lake over the course of the year, the height of the pier adapts to the changing water level. The pier platforms remain floating until the water level becomes too low for the gangways to comply with ADA standards. After that point, the floating platforms are supported by fixed concrete pillars and a custom support truss, restricting the structure to a maximum slope of eight percent. This way, in scenarios where the water level is low, the pier becomes more or less traditional. The floating platforms are held above the water’s surface, however the end platform is as close to the surface as possible while still in compliance with standards set by ADA.

The team mirrored the existing master plan developed by Foothills Parks & Recreation District for the grading and site plan. This included performing a preliminary survey of the site and creating a grading plan for a parking lot and trail that leads to the pier. The team wanted to increase community enjoyment so some elements of nature play were incorporated into the plan including shade trees, benches, and native erosion reducing shrubs, grasses, and paths.

Next Steps

The work done by the Topwater Troubadours will be utilized by Foothills to apply for the Fishing is Fun Grant in the Spring of 2022 to provide funding for the project to move forward. Following this, a design engineer and construction contractor will need to be selected to adjust and stamp the plans we have set forth. The team chosen will need to verify conformance with all local and national standards. It is possible that the pier could be constructed and in use by the end of 2023.


Though we believe our design is a thorough solution to the presented problem, it is possible that the final design approved by the engineer will differ considerably. Whether this change is due to the project scope, setting, or goals changing in the future, the team is glad to have contributed to a project that benefits the local community.

Meet the Team

Dylan Waters

Born and raised in Colorado, Dylan went to Colorado School of Mines for his curiosity of how and why the world is the way it is. Dylan is currently seeking employment opportunities and is particularly interested in designing innovation. Current hobbies include dirt biking, rock climbing, and mountain biking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.

Michael Sowards

Michael is a graduating senior majoring in Civil Engineering. Originally from Southern Colorado he has come to enjoy anything outdoors related. With experience in commercial construction and education through Mines, this project has allowed him to put some of those skills to practice and design a product that the client is happy with. After graduating he will be starting as a Field Engineer with HPM Contracting.

Heaven McKinley

Heaven is currently studying environmental engineering and will begin an MS in hydrologic science and engineering in the fall here at Mines. Originally from Dallas, TX, she pursued engineering because of an interest in water resources. She enjoyed gaining practical experience with conceptual hydraulic analysis for this project.

Michael Kush

Originally from a small town near Worcester, Massachusetts, Michael came out to the Rocky Mountain State to study civil engineering. With experience in land development, this project has provided him an opportunity to use that experience to create a project helping people to engage with the great outdoors.

Michael is looking forward to joining Kimley-Horn as a Fulltime Civil EIT in July.

Rylan Eller

Originally from Northern Colorado, Rylan came to Golden to study mechanical engineering. The Hine Lake Fishing Pier Project has provided him an opportunity to put his classroom knowledge into practice and also to give back to the fishing community, which he is an active member of. He is looking forward to graduating in December and beginning his career in industry.