LARIMER COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation and Kiewit Infrastructure Co. will open US 34 for travel between Loveland and County Road 43 for access to Estes Park over the holiday weekend, but drivers are still encouraged to use Highway 36 into Estes Park to avoid delays.
The highway will be open to all motorists (with or without residential permits) at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, and will remain open until 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. Because the highway is currently a one-lane road for 11 miles, travel will be slow on US 34 and drivers will need to follow a pilot car for their safety. These lane restrictions and the anticipated extra traffic on the road for the holidays could mean delays exceeding one hour, especially on Friday. Motorists should plan for extra travel time if they plan to use US 34, and cyclists should plan not to ride in the busy one lane corridor, for their safety. We encourage those drivers who can, to still use the US 36 and CO 66 detour for quicker access to and from Estes Park and Loveland.
The section of US 34 between mile points 72 – 74, west of Drake, will remain closed where crews are repairing the highway near the landslide. All through-traffic from Loveland to Estes Park will need to use Larimer County Road 43.
This opening is part of CDOT’s promise to reduce the inconvenience to canyon residents and nearby communities as much as possible. Drivers should remember to drive slowly and be prepared to stop at the single-lane section.
Following the holiday weekend, US 34 will again close to through-traffic until Dec. 23 when the highway will open for Christmas. This opening will continue until Jan. 2. Further details will be announced closer to these dates. Following the holiday season, the highway will close until just before Memorial Day 2018. To travel between Estes Park and Loveland drivers should use the detour on US 36 and CO 66. The only access on US 34 will be for canyon residents and emergency services through a permit process.
US 34 Big Thompson Canyon’s roads and bridges were heavily damaged during the 2013 floods with many homes damaged and over 100 air lifted evacuations. The canyon and its residents also suffered from flooding in 1976. As a result of these two events CDOT has been studying the hydraulic flow of the river in the canyon and its impact on the road and bridges along its path while looking for safety improvements and resiliency solutions to prevent/protect against future flood events.