Larimer: US 34 Permanent Repairs Create Angst

CDOT has held a series of public meetings to discuss closures on US 34 between Loveland and Estes Park in order to build the highway into bedrock between mile markers 77 and 80 (Cedar Cove area) so it won’t wash out again and permanently repairing the damage caused by the flood of September 2013. After the flood, CDOT and consultants worked quickly to open the damaged road by December 1, but the repairs were always meant to be temporary.

CDOT had hoped to begin blasting sooner but after Estes Park businesses voiced concern about the impact to the economy during the fall tourist season, CDOT decided to delay the closures until October. Johnny Olson, the Director of CDOT Region 4, said there is no way to do the blasting and reconstruction needed without completely closing the highway although it will be open during specific morning and evening hours. The closures will continue through June 2017. Travel to and from Estes will be rerouted via Highway 36 and 66. CDOT has test drove that route and found it adds about 15 minutes to the drive, although some people scoffed at this statement.

Some of the unhappiest people at the latest meeting were canyon residents. This is understandable because their lives will be heavily impacted. However, CDOT had a difficult choice to make. The road could be closed most of the time, which would make the repair process as quick as possible, or allow more traffic through which would make the repair work take even longer and probably make it more expensive.

REALTORS showing property to buyers interested in the canyon should make sure clients understand the realities of life in remote areas with limited access. Updated information on the project is available here: https://us34canyon.codot.gov.

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