3-mile stretch of U.S. 34 in Big Thompson Canyon to close beginning Monday

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — A three-mile stretch of U.S. 34 through Big Thompson Canyon will close for seven months beginning Monday, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

The closure, which will be in effect until Memorial Day, is to make permanent repairs to the highway that was heavily damaged in the 2013 flood.

The closure will be between mile markers 77 and 80. The highway will be open to residents east of mile marker 80 (near Cedar Cove) and west of mile marker 77 (just east of Drake).

Residents with a required permit will be allowed through the canyon from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

Crews will be performing major rock blasting and construction on the highway during the seven-month, $50 million project.

“This plan balances the comments we heard from canyon residents about needing to commute to work and the concerns of canyon business owners about losing customers with the need to do this high-impact work in the safest, most expedited manner,” CDOT said in a news release.

CDOT said it studied the hydraulic flow of the Big Thompson River in the canyon as a result of the 2013 flood and the massive flood in 1976.

The canyon suffered widespread damage in 2013, with major sections of the roadway washed away along with access bridges and retaining walls.

Temporary repairs made the highway usable in November 2013, but the permanent repairs are aimed with flooding in mind.

U.S. 34 connects Loveland to Estes Park. Drivers wanting to go to Estes Park will need to use U.S. 36 through Lyons.