By Michael Abeyta

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Highway 34 west of County Road 29 in Loveland has been almost serene lately.

hwy 34 problems transfer frame 949 Small Business Owner Worries About Highway Closure: This Is My Retirement

“You can tell, there’s just no traffic here,” said LeAnn Beavers. The quiet is not giving Beavers any peace of mind. “It’s been hell,” she said.

That’s because she owns and operates Beavers Den Leather off of Hwy 34. She sells leather coats, bags and accessories to passing motorcyclists.

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(credit: CBS)

“We rely on tourists going up to Estes,” she said.

Business has been slow for her this winter because Hwy 34 is closed for construction west of Loveland all the way to Estes Park.

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Highway 34 (credit: CBS)

“The motorcycles aren’t traveling out here because the road is closed,” Beavers said. “When the motorcycles aren’t traveling, I’m not making money.” She joked, “We have the construction trucks. They’re going 24/7.”

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(credit: CBS)

The trucks are helping to repair the road, but they aren’t bringing Beavers any business and that’s made it hard for her to keep her head above water.

“It’s very frustrating. I’m getting ready to trade in my change just to keep the electric on,” she said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation knows these closures have been hard on small business owners all along the highway, but they also point out that the road needs to be repaired.

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(credit: CBS)

They have closed the road twice since the initial flood reconstruction which includes a closure from October until Memorial Day. That is considered the off season for tourists.

Crews then reopen the highway during the summer so businesses won’t miss out on those  lucrative months.

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LeAnn Beavers (credit: CBS)

 

Still, Beavers can’t help but notice how the closure has effected her business.

“It’s just quiet. Sometimes I feel like there’s a ghost in here,” she said.

If business is slow any longer she says she may lose everything. If that happens, even though the tourists may be back, Beavers won’t be.

“I don’t know what I would do. This is my retirement,” she said.

It’s not all bad news. Beavers has been approved to receive some money from The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to help her get back on her feet after the flood.

They are also planning to work with her to make sure she gets the money she desperately needs as quickly as possible. Still, she doesn’t have it yet and fears she may not get it in time.

There is also money available to help business owners like Beavers impacted by the highway closure.

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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