CO 119 Boulder Canyon Improvements

As the summer construction season starts to ramp up, the Colorado Highway 119 Boulder Canyon Improvements project team wanted to provide an update to the community on the status of the project and what to expect in the coming months. We understand this project may have contributed to some frustration and delays in your daily life, and we want you to know that we recognize these impacts and are working hard to complete the project as soon as possible. 
The project is currently on schedule to complete the majority of the work by the end of this year, unless heavy or early snowfall and cold temperatures prevent crews from completing paving and revegetation this fall. These operations are highly temperature dependent. If that is the case, these activities will be completed early spring 2021. This is in line with the plan that was presented to the public in December 2019.
Crews are working to complete bridge rehabilitation at the entrance of the canyon from Boulder. The first phase of this work will be complete mid-June, at which time it will be paved and then repairs will begin on the second half. Roadway reconstruction also continues in this area. Near this same area, crews will begin constructing a large retaining wall that will protect the pedestrian path. 
Just west of this area, crews continue building the pedestrian path near the Alps Inn. The pedestrian tunnel is in place and will be backfilled in the coming weeks. Crews continue with blasting, scaling and in this area as well. Using 5-10-minute traffic holds, crews have made a lot of progress in this area. This work will continue through the summer. Text alerts are sent in the morning on days with blasting activities to notify drivers. While we have generally moved away from conducting any 4-hour closures at the request of the local community and elected officials, a handful of 4-hour closures will be necessary to complete rock excavation. 
Thursday, June 11 and Monday, June 15 crews will utilize 4-hour closures for blasting between mile points 38 and 40. These closures are scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. and reopen by 2 p.m. Project crews have identified a number of large boulders resting on top of rock face that is scheduled to be blasted. During this operation, crews predict that the large boulders will fall onto Colorado Highway 119. Closing the canyon will allow the work to proceed as safely and efficiently as possible.
Above the Alps Inn, crews are hauling rock and installing roadway protection along the creek banks near the Barker Dam. This rock armoring is designed to protect the roadway from future flooding and erosion. This work will be completed by late June, and the traffic signal will be removed at that time. 
Beginning the week of June 8, crews will be replacing inlets around the roundabout in downtown Nederland. This work will last for approximately 3 weeks, and the area will be repaved following this work.
There’s no denying that our daily lives have changed drastically in the last two weeks, and in some cases, lives have been turned upside down. Small town tourism industries, in particular, has been hard hit, and that doesn’t go without notice to the construction crews working in Boulder Canyon. Many sacrifices are being made from closing businesses and schooling children at home to canceling events and moving work operations to our homes where possible.

While telecommuting might work for some occupations, construction clearly isn’t one of those. Without people physically on site to do the work, the CO 119 Boulder Canyon project would continue to be delayed and never become a reality. But while road work is progressing for now, that’s not to say it is totally business as usual on the jobsite. As you know, safety is always a top priority for CDOT, and that includes safety precautions during this virus pandemic. Here are some of the things work crews are doing a little differently these days:
  • Crew members are refraining from going into jobsite trailers or project offices unless absolutely necessary, and when they have to, they aren’t doing so in groups.
  • Daily safety briefings are being done with just a couple of people rather than the entire crew.
  • Paperwork is being done in the cab of pickup trucks and daily logs of work activities filled out at home.
  • Project management meetings have been scaled back where possible, and any meetings involving more than a few people are being conducted via phone.
  • Everyone is being told to NOT report to work if they feel ill, and anyone who doesn’t feel well on the job is immediately sent home.
  • All office staff and non-essential personnel who can work from home are doing so.
  • Though all workers in the field wear gloves, hand tools are being cleaned more vigilantly and workers are instructed to wash or sanitize their hands after removing gloves.
  • Workers are bringing their own water bottle to the jobsite to avoid using a common water cooler.
  • Portable restrooms are being sanitized more frequently.
  • Steering wheels and machinery equipment controls are being wiped down, particularly if different people will be moving in and out of the equipment throughout the day.
  • Crews are communicating via radio instead of face-to-face.
  • Flaggers are staying at least 6 feet away from stopped cars and will not be accepting any gifts from drivers. As drivers, please refrain from rolling down your windows and speaking with flaggers during this time.

Sunday, September 20 - Saturday, September 26

  • Thursday, September 24 there will be a single-lane closure for paving work between MP 26- 37. 
  • Colorado Highway 119 - Boulder Canyon will have single-lane closures. During working hours, there will be up to four areas impacted concurrently.
  • Up to 40-minute delays are expected through the canyon during work hours. Speed limits are reduced to 25 miles per hour in the construction zones. The work is weather-dependent, and the schedule may change.

24/7 Ongoing Impacts

  • Road reconstruction and bridge repair is underway between MP 39 and 40. Concrete flatwork also continues in Nederland.
  • One traffic control signal remains in place MP 39 – 40.5 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. 
  • Motorists will be guided around the single-lane closures with traffic control flaggers.
  • Please continue to plan additional time to travel through the construction zones or to use the alternate routes of Colorado Highway 72 or Lefthand Canyon Drive during construction.

Trail Closures and Cycling Updates

  • The FULL CLOSURE of the Boulder Canyon trail at MP 40 where it crosses under Colorado Highway 119 will remain in place throughout 2020, preventing through access from Boulder to the Four Mile trailhead.
  • Eastbound cyclists will need to merge with CO 119 traffic through the project area. Westbound cycling will be closed at all times through the work area, but open beyond the project limits.
  • The Boulder Canyon trail and these cycling restrictions will be closed through 2020. Cyclists who travel eastbound through the project can utilize the RTD bus system to travel westbound.
  • The Boulder Falls parking lot (near MP 33) will be closed for multiple days this week for paving related work, beginning on Monday.

Creek Closure

  • The Boulder Canyon Creek will be closed to all uses between Canyon Park Drive (Boulder) and Boulder Falls until further notice.

Project Facts

  • Cost: $31 Million
  • Contractor: Zak Dirt
  • Timeline: Winter 2019 - December 2020
  • Location: CO 119 between Boulder and Nederland
  • Alternate Route During Construction: CO 72 is a recommended detour. Learn more about the CO 72 Coal Creek Canyon project.

About the Project

In March 2019, crews began repairing a 15-mile stretch of Colorado Highway 119, between Boulder and Nederland, which was damaged during flooding in 2013.

Work includes:

  • resurfacing 13 miles of highway, and entirely replacing two miles of highway;
  • building concrete islands to improve the roundabout in Nederland;
  • installing new highway directional and safety signage;
  • replacing multiple pipes conveying stormwater drainage under the highway;
  • scaling rock in selected areas to reduce rockfalls on the highway;
  • repairing soft shoulder areas immediately adjacent the highway;
  • replacing 29,000 linear feet of concrete or metal guardrail;
  • removing and replacing materials placed during emergency repairs;
  • excavating areas where the slope had failed in the storm;
  • redesigning and widening specific sections of the roadway;
  • reconstructing embankments; and
  • re-establishing native grass seed and erosion control to slopes that were disturbed during emergency recovery work.

Boulder County Trail Improvements

The project, in partnership with Boulder County, will extend and reinforce sections of the Boulder Canyon Trail. The 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail will be extended from Four Mile Canyon to Chapman Drive—adding two new bike-friendly tunnels under the highway and approximately 3500 feet of length to the trail.

Project Work Hours:

  • 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., Monday - Friday
  • No night or weekend work is planned. However, some work zones will remain closed to preserve the work area.

Travel Impacts & Delays

Local detours remain available. From Boulder, a northern alternate route can be taken via CO 7, US 36 and CO 72. A southern alternate route is available via CO 93 and CO 72. Please note, motorists taking the southern alternate route should be aware of a current project on CO 72 in Coal Creek Canyon, between Plainview Road (mile point 12.3) and Pinecliffe (MP 24.6). Expect lane shifts and short delays at this work zone. 

Various delays from single lane & full road closures are expected throughout the project.  Motorist are strongly encouraging everyone to plan ahead to give yourselves enough time to reach your destination.

  • Expect various long-term single-lane closures managed by temporary traffic signals, and various short-term single-lane closures managed by flagging.
  • Plan for 40-Minute Delays.
  • Speed limits will be reduced to 25 mph in the work zones. Expect several stops through the corridor.  
  • A permit-load restriction will be in effect.

Do Not Drive Distracted

CDOT does not encourage drivers to make calls or use any apps while driving. Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in anything—texting, looking after children or pets, talking on the phone or to a passenger, watching videos, eating, or reading—that takes a driver's focus away from the road. Distracted drivers cause an average 43 crashes each day in Colorado. In 2018, there were 15,673 crashes in Colorado that involved a distracted driver.

Finally, CDOT used 100% solar to power the WiFi system. This system will function throughout the night and several days without sun. This wifi will only be available throughout the duration of the project.

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