NEDERLAND, Colo. – Small business owners in the small town are begging customers to take the scenic route for a visit.
Colorado’s Highway 119 connects Boulder and Nederland through Boulder Canyon. The road sustained catastrophic damage during the 2013 floods. At the time, CDOT performed emergency repairs to reopen the route.
In March, CDOT began work on permanent flood repairs that will make the 15-mile stretch safer in the future. The work includes resurfacing, replacing pipes under the highway, rockfall mitigation, replacing guardrails, reconstruction and widening parts of the roadway.
“[It] is great. I’m glad it’s happening. The roads need to be repaired because with the rains and the snowmelt, the flooding could happen again,” Heather Hatwan told FOX31. “When the floods happened six years ago it devastated everything up here.”
Hatwan owns The Branding Iron restaurant on the main street that runs through Nederland. She says while necessary, the construction project is causing small businesses like hers to really struggle.
She says right now business is “at least 65 to 70 percent slower than it was” before construction began.
According to Nederland business owners, the problem is not the construction itself, but the delays it causes for drivers.
CDOT has to close Hwy 119 Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The full closures will continue on this schedule until August 2019.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday there are single and full lane closures requiring traffic to be controlled by timed signals or construction crew members. These closures will last until Summer 2020.
According to CDOT, drivers on this route should expect about 15 to 30 minutes of additional travel time between Boulder and Nederland in both directions.
The suggested detour is to take CO 72 to Lefthand Canyon Drive.
“We’re just not seeing the kind of traffic that you normally would and I’d say it has affected our business significantly in terms of what we expect to make,” Doug Armitage said.
Armitage owns Brightwood Music in Nederland, which has been open in its current location for ten years.
“I’m really just hoping that people are going to take the time to spend the extra 20 minutes coming up the canyon,” he said.
Many business owners say they are worried if the construction project continues to keep customers away, once the road is back open, it may be a road to nowhere.
“If we can’t sustain our businesses and our lifestyle, we don’t be here for anyone to drive to,” Hatwan said. “We’re one month in and we still have another year and a half to go. What’s going to happen? It’s scary.”
Those in Nederland are urging visitors to take detours through Coal Creek Canyon or Sunshine Canyon.
“Either of the alternative routes are really not that bad and they’re beautiful to look at as well,” Armitage said.
“You’re going to see moose. You might see some big horn sheep. You’re definitely going to see some deer or some elk,” Hatwan said.