Reopening of 3-mile section first of two major achievements
LARIMER COUNTY – The US 34 closure between Estes Park and Loveland is now three miles shorter, with the section of the highway between mile points 80 and 83 on the east end of the canyon now open to two-way travel for everyone.
Inside this tight area known as the narrows, crews completed 14,000 cubic yards of soil-cement mixing. In this process, crews combined natural material with cement to create man-made bedrock beneath a 15-foot wide section of the driving surface. This mixture will make the roadway through the narrows more resilient by ensuring that the river cannot erode the pavement from below. Crews also installed new drainage in this area. The minor work that remains to be done in this section of the canyon can be done under the condition of single lane closures.
“Each time we meet a promised milestone, we become one step closer to meeting our commitment to the canyon residents and local communities to have the canyon opened prior to this coming Memorial day. Reopening the narrows is a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication to making that happen,” said James Usher, CDOT project director.
In the next few weeks, the project team plans to open the roadway near the landslide (mile point 71) for travel by permit holders. This section of the highway has been completely closed since October, with even permitted residents prohibited from driving through this area while crews install several layers of grouted boulders under the road to protect from flooding. Allowing resident traffic in this area will provide more direct access to Estes Park.
Despite these gains, project officials are quick to point out that a significant amount of road and river work still needs to be done – including the sections of the highway west of the landslide area and near Drake.
On Monday, Jan. 22, the closure limit on the Estes Park end of the canyon will move further west to mile point 68, or Noel’s Draw Lane. The new closure limit will allow crews to install protection below the roadway, similar to work that is being done inside the landslide area.
The closure will continue up to the Memorial Day weekend. This summer, asphalt paving and milling operations will continue throughout the canyon, requiring lane closures and intermittent traffic impacts. Project completion is scheduled for December 2018.
PROJECT BACKGROUND: 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 studied 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.
CDOT PROJECT INFORMATION: For updates to this project, the public may call (970) 667-1005 or visit us34canyon.codot.gov. To sign up for “CDOT Alerts” on projects in your chosen area, visit CDOT’s website at www.codot.gov and choose the envelope icon at the bottom of the page. Or, to see CDOT’s lane closure reports for projects statewide, visit www.codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html. Major CDOT project updates are also available via CoTrip.org, Twitter @coloradodot or Facebook.