Skip to content
We're Hiring
We're Hiring
Edgemont Highlands

Edgemont Highlands Development Balances Community and Nature


Edgemont Highlands is a multi-family development seeking to provide a natural mountain living experience through architecturally integrated homes and shared access to the natural surroundings. Situated on over 500 acres of land, the community is only a few minutes away from downtown Durango, which provides easy access to local shops and restaurants.

Tom D Gorton Construction Inc. partnered with SEH to help bring its vision to life by providing design and construction services through a multi-phased project involving improvements to roadways, water distribution facilities, drainage, on-site infrastructure, and lot development.


SEH, involved with the project since 2007, provided planning, designing, and engineering for multiple phases – the first of which included over $4 million in infrastructure improvements. Initial improvements included highway access improvements, a 600,000-gallon water tank, pump station improvements, and on-site infrastructure improvements. Design included tying into and upgrading the neighboring, older community's infrastructure, while using as-built mapping to ensure accuracy.

The team worked with maintenance personnel to develop an overall system map, checked and calibrated a computer water system model, and made recommendations to serve future phases of the community.

Today, the development boasts more than 1,000 homes, with almost 200 acres of dedicated open space, a comprehensive trail system for residents to enjoy, access to the National Forest, private access to a mile and a half of the Florida River for activities such as hiking and fly-fishing, and a beautiful community lodge.

Design addresses erosion and drainage concerns  

To mitigate the challenges of building in a high alpine environment, the roadway design included increased use of rip rap and armoring of slopes. A low water seed mix was also introduced to promote vegetation growth and protect the slopes. Additionally, the design incorporated over 10 detention ponds throughout the development to enhance the landscape and address stormwater management. These measures helped ensure the sustainability and long-term stability of the roadways in this challenging environment. 

Preserving the natural landscape through sustainable design  

A key component throughout planning and design focused on being responsible land stewards. The roads were designed to minimize disruption and preserve trees, and natural drainage patterns were utilized in the land planning process. Some of the larger trees removed were milled into lumber on site and used in the construction of homes and the Community Lodge, while smaller trees were chipped and used on the community's walking trails. In addition to burying utilities and installing a natural gas line, the community also implemented xeric landscaping requirements that are in line with the local high desert landscape and provided a list of suggested plantings in the landscaping guidelines. The xeric garden around the Lodge is an example of the beauty that can be achieved while respecting the area's climate. The property's design also limits the amount of sod and the number of sprinklers per site to conserve water resources, as sod requires a significant amount of water to maintain and can be a major contributor to water consumption.

Additional design measures mitigate wildfire risk  

The design team took several measures to mitigate wildfire hazards, which included thinning the forest, creating defensible space around each unit, and incorporating fire breaks on the property. Water lines created additional areas of defensible land. 

Construction best practices keep project on track  

Throughout each of the five phases of the development, SEH oversaw the construction of all roadways, drainage, sanitary sewer collection, and water distribution, and coordinated with the various dry utility providers for the community. This was accomplished with SEH preparing all construction drawings, contract bid documents, and reviewing all construction change orders, shop drawings, material submittals, and pay requests. By utilizing part-time construction observation, SEH provided project as-built drawings and certified that each phase of the project was built per the plans and specifications.  

Edgemont Highlands 

Durango, Colorado  

Tom D Gorton Construction Inc.


  • Over $4 million in infrastructure improvements
  • Constructed over five phases
  • Master planned community of more than 1,000 homes on 500+ acres
  • Conscientious land planning protects land’s natural features
  • Property boosts more than 150 native plant species


  • Construction management
  • Highways
  • Drainage
  • Landscape architecture
  • Planning
  • Traffic engineering
  • Transportation engineering
  • Water engineering