ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Transportation has reopened U.S. Highway 34 in the Big Thompson Canyon for the holidays.
Repair work from the September 2013 flood is more than halfway complete. That means until next year, drivers cannot use the highway to visit Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park.
Crews have been working the stretch of highway between Loveland and Estes Park since October 2016. They’ve blasted and hauled rock in the Big Thompson Canyon totaling an amount that would fit in nearly 20,000 concrete mixer trucks.
The highway will remain open in the canyon where it was previously closed, from just east of mile marker 66, just east of Mall Road, to mile marker 83, the Dam Store, until Jan. 2, 2018.
Canyon residents headed to Estes Park will need to use County Road 43, and all others without permits (including oversized vehicles) will need to use the US 36 detour once the highway closes again.
As work progresses, sections of the road will be reopened, which will provide more access to canyon residents.
Roads and bridges were heavily damaged during the 2013 floods and decades before that in the 1976 floods.
CDOT studied the hydraulic flow of the river, considering safety improvements and options to prevent and protect against future floods.
CDOT says a significant amount of road and river work remains undone. This closure will continue from Jan. 2, 2018 through May 2018. Project completion is scheduled for December 2018.