LYONS, Colo. - The final 12 miles of state highway damaged in the September flooding opened Tuesday.
State Highway 7 has been closed from Lyons to Raymond since mid-September when the roadway was damaged.
The Colorado Department of Transportation stressed that while the road is now reopened, the repairs are temporary and the speed limit has been reduced in areas.
"The permanent repairs will begin in spring 2014," CDOT said Tuesday.
Still, residents from Lyons and Allenspark had reason to celebrate now.
"This is our road and our canyon. We are so grateful and everyone’s been so awesome," said Allenspark resident Christine Futro. "It’s our connection to Lyons and our friends. It’s overwhelming."
Futro was one of dozens of residents who came to the celebratory reopening held by Governor Hickenlooper and CDOT at the mouth of the St. Vrain canyon. The Governor thanked all the CDOT employees who repaired 27 state highways in three months and commended them on their quick work.
"No one believed there was going to be, that these roads would be open before spring. That’s what everyone believed, except for these [CDOT] guys," Hickenlooper said.
After a ceremonial ribbon cutting, a group of residents celebrated with a champagne toast. The laughter could be heard throughout the mouth of the canyon. Everyone saying they were grateful to have 'their road' back.
"We’ve been kind of cut-off up there and so it’s really exciting to have our canyon back," said Allenspark resident Margee Patterson.
Margee and her husband Glenn Patterson drove a 7NEWS crew along the road for the first time since the reopening. Both were impressed with the road repairs but shocked by the change in the river. One area that stood out to Glenn was the confluence.
"It used to be you could barely tell where that confluence was between trees and the creeks were pretty small," Glenn Patterson said. "Today, when we got to the confluence of these two creeks, it was like two giant rivers."
Repairing the highway took:
- 60 pieces of equipment
- 27,000 tons of aggregate road base
- 14,600 tons of asphalt
- Moving approx. 171,000 cubic yards of reclaimed onsite materials -- enough to fill 17,000 single dump trucks
- Replacing or repairing 27 culverts
- Installing 9,312 linear feet of concrete barrier
The Colorado Department of Transportation set a goal of December 1 to reopen all 485 miles of Colorado’s damaged highways. They will beat that goal by five days.
This month, three major roadways reopened -- U.S. 34 between Loveland and Estes Park, U.S. 36 between Lyons and Estes Park and Highway 72 in Coal Creek Canyon.
CDOT said the permanent repairs will begin in spring 2014. They said its likely crews will start on U.S. 34 and U.S. 36.