US Highway 36, the main route between Lyons and Estes Park, will close in both directions for 30 days starting Monday.
The closure is part of the project to improve safety and fix damage from the massive 2013 flood, which devastated the area.
During the construction, crews will install two large drainage structures under US 36 to return the Little Thompson River back to its original channel, therefore reducing the impact of any future floods. CDOT said the project will also increase visibility around a blind corner and increase the size of the shoulder. As a whole, this work will reduce future closures, CDOT said.
The 30-day closure will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 9 and will last until the week of April 7. Crews will work around the clock, CDOT said. While the actual closure is only 500 feet long, no vehicles, aside from buses and emergency vehicles, will be allowed through in either direction.
After the highway reopens in April, CDOT crews may need to require single-lane closures for continuing work during the week, which will likely last through February 2021, CDOT said.
Drivers can still get to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park — the drive will just take a little longer. As alternatives, drivers can use Colorado Highway 7 west to Allenspark and then north to Estes Park, or US 287 north to westbound US 34 to Estes Park.
A drive from Lyons to Estes Park using US 36 would normally take about 30 minutes. Using Highway 7 will take roughly 20 extra minutes and using US 287 to US 34 will take an extra 40-50 minutes.
CDOT spokesman Jared Fiel said when the 2013 floods hit, CDOT used emergency repair materials to fix US 36, but it was never meant to be permanent. Now, they want the road to be ready to handle the next time the flood waters come through.
"It's amazing to think the impacts of 2013 are still hitting today," he said. "People don't understand how big this flood was. It just had such a far-reaching impact — the fact that we're still dealing with it today."
Regional Transportation Director for Northeast Colorado for CDOT Heather Paddock said CDOT understands that this closure is inconvenient for drivers trying to get to Estes Park from the Denver and Boulder area.
“But when we talked to officials from these communities and spelled out that the other alternative was to have 24/7 one-lane roads that would have lasted four months and backed deep into the tourist season, the choice was unanimous to do the closure and get done as soon as possible," Paddock said.
To learn more about this project, call 720-543-9078, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the project website here.