Projects

US 34 Big Thompson Canyon

Improvements to Permitted Travel

From Monday, April 24, through Thursday, May 25—when the canyon opens to all traffic—expect the following:

  • Two pilot cars operating during each opening, allowing both directions of traffic to flow and decreasing delays
  • One extra hour of permitted travel—in mornings Monday through Friday, and in evenings on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Permitted travel times:
    • 5-8:30 a.m. and 4-7 p.m., Monday through Friday
    • 6-8:30 a.m. and 4-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday
Learn more.

Travel Impacts:
Week of April 23

  • 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 24 - Sunday, April 30
    US 34 remains closed from mile points 77 - 80, with scheduled residential access. This closure will remain in place until just before Memorial Day 2017.


Please keep in mind that lane closures are weather dependent and subject to change. Although the closure will be consistent, please continue to check this site for the most up-to-date information.

Plan to Cut Nearly Two Years off Construction

US 34 - Damage

CDOT is looking to cut nearly two years off the expected permanent reconstruction on US 34 in the Big Thompson Canyon and, in the process, have little impact to travelers during the busy summer season. The tradeoff for this time savings is closing the canyon again next October through May—the same timing as the current closure.

Read the announcement.

See the accelerated plan.

Permits Available by Appointment Only


The only vehicles permitted to travel through this work zone are emergency service vehicles and, at specific times of the day, people who live in the canyon or are doing business in the canyon.

All other through traffic traveling between Estes Park and Loveland should take the posted detour route. View a map of this detour route.

During snow events, drivers using the US 36 detour route between Lyons and Estes Park must follow any posted traction laws for passenger vehicles or chain laws for commercial vehicles.

US 34 remains open to the east and west of this closure area, so anyone trying to get to a business on the east end of the canyon can still do so from the Loveland side, and anyone trying to get to a business on the west end of the canyon can still do so from the Estes Park side.

This section of US 34 will be closed until late May 2017 so crews can do rock blasting work and haul off materials as part of the permanent repairs being made to the highway following the 2013 flood.

Flood Impact Analysis
 

US 34 Big Thompson Canyon was heavily damaged during the 2013 floods, with many homes damaged and over 100 air-lifted evacuations. The canyon and its residents also suffered from flooding in 1976. As a result of these two events, CDOT has been studying the hydraulic flow of the river in the canyon, and its impact on the road and bridges along its path. CDOT also is looking for safety improvements and resiliency solutions to prevent and protect against significant damage from future flood events.


Damage Overview

This section US 34 winds its way through the Big Thompson Canyon, providing major access between Loveland, Lyons, and Estes Park. During the flooding, watershed runoff combined with flows released from Lake Estes Dam and surges from debris dam breaches to produce huge flow surges that exceeded the 500–year flood event. The canyon section sustained widespread, massive damage. Major sections of roadway were washed away completely, along with access bridges and retaining walls. In the narrows, much of the roadway and grade were undermined, washing out the pavement from below and exposing the wall support structures.


Emergency (Temporary) Repairs

US 34 - Emergency Repairs
Temporary repairs were completed and the highway was reopened to traffic in both directions on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2013. CDOT and its contractors worked from both the east and west ends of the canyon to assess and repair the damage and restore local access as quickly as possible. Emergency repairs were extensive and included removing debris, re-establishing shoulders and embankments, replacing damaged asphalt, filling washed out sections with concrete fill, repairing local access structures, and repairing damaged drainage structures.

Permanent (Long-Term) Repairs

Permanent repairs will include removing and replacing much of the temporary asphalt, embankment fill, and temporary channel protection; as well as re-vegetating, replacing guardrails, and repairing fencing. Some of the roadway sections that were not destroyed, but experienced flood water overtopping the roadway, will be analyzed and possibly replaced.

See a brochure that further explains the permanent repair process.


Estimated Timeline

  • Est. Design Start: Summer 2014
  • Construction Start: 2016

Estimated Budget

  • $280 million

Benefits

One of the goals in the repair process is to introduce certain betterments (improvements that go beyond bringing the roadway up to standard) to roadway facilities that were damaged and make them more resilient to similar storm events in the future. Having analyzed the damage caused during the flood event, certain design elements will be incorporated in an effort to prevent or lessen the severe damage that significant flood events can cause. During the permanent repair phase, several alternatives will be developed to ensure that the Big Thompson channel has increased capacity and the roadway has additional high water relief to handle large storm events.

Contact Us
Did you know?

At least eight different entities will be working in the river concurrently with CDOT. Together, we are coordinating with regulatory agencies to ensure water quality is maintained. If you notice water quality issues, please contact the project team: 970-667-1005.

River Work MapClick to enlarge the map of river work.

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