Boulder Canyon Highway 119 reopens between Boulder and Nederland

Gov. Hickenlooper cut thr ribbon Monday morning

BOULDER, Colo. - Governor John Hickenlooper cut the ribbon on Colorado Highway 119 Monday morning.

The highway through Boulder Canyon reopened to traffic Sunday evening, reestablishing a direct connection between Boulder and Nederland.

"Everyone in Nederland is all abuzz about this," said Annette Croughwal, a Nederaland Resident.

The highway had been closed since Sept. 12, when flooding damaged several sections of the roadway.

"We've been getting stir crazy," said Betty Ranny, an Estes Park resident who had taken Sunshine Canyon down ("It's really bumpy") and was thrilled to find out Boulder Canyon would be open for the way back up. "We did a Costco run. We're really glad it's re-opening right now."

Sunday's reopening was a week ahead of schedule, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Good weather played a role in the early opening.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is set to visit the highway early Monday and talk about the timetable for restoring other state highways closed in Boulder and Larimer Counties, including U.S. 34 through Big Thompson Canyon and U.S. 36 between Lyons and Estes Park.

But residents had an unofficial reopening ceremony when the road blocks were removed and the national guard left their checkpoints.

"This artery is critical to our community," said Nederland Mayor Joe Gierlach.  '"It's normally 20 minutes down [Boulder] Canyon, that commute turned into an hour-and-a-half."

Motorists had to drive to Black Hawk and then to either I-70 or Highway 6 to Golden before the canyon was reopened.

The national guard said not every driver took the detour willingly, some drivers going through the road block. "Don't think they realized we had more checkpoints up the road," said one Guard member.)

Residents hope this reopening will relieve congestion on other mountain roads, and bring back tourists.

Ranny said Estes Park has been "Dead. Deader than a doornail."