January 19, 2023

Work finally set to begin on Downtown Estes Loop

ESTES PARK — Nearly a decade after the town of Estes Park initially applied for federal funds to help build it and more than six years after the project gained final approval from the town’s Board of Trustees, work will begin this month on Estes Park’s hotly debated 1.1-mile Downtown Loop, a one-way street reconfiguration through the center of the tourist town designed to ease congestion and speed summer access to and from Rocky Mountain National Park.

According to a news release issued by the town, the work will begin with tree removal and excavation, followed by full construction during the second week of February. 

Broomfield-based Flatiron Construction is the prime contractor, under the direction of the town, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division.

Estes Park loop
A map shows the route of Estes Park’s downtown loop. Courtesy town of Estes Park.

The construction work will begin with building a roundabout along Moraine Avenue, the current route of U.S. Highway 36, where it takes a 90-degree curve on the south edge of downtown. The roundabout will connect Moraine to Crags and West Riverside drives. Intermittent lane closures will follow in the area, with a temporary traffic configuration in place there by summer.

The next step will be demolition and reconstruction of the Ivy Street Bridge. During that work, Ivy, Crags and West Riverside will be closed to through traffic, and local traffic will need to use the Post Office parking lot. According to the town, that new bridge is expected to be completed by spring or early summer to allow West Riverside to open to handle increased tourist traffic.

The work will include improvements and relocation of utility services, which are to be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, although some night work may also be needed.

The next phase will include resurfacing of Moraine and Elkhorn avenues and Rockwell Drive.

When the project is completed, likely by the end of 2024, westbound traffic on U.S. 36 toward the national park will follow its current routing west on Elkhorn, then south and west on Moraine. Eastbound traffic out of the park, however, will exit Moraine through the roundabout onto West Riverside Drive, then roughly northward on West Riverside, over the new bridge onto East Riverside Drive, and reconnecting with Elkhorn across from Bond Park.

Most of the construction has been scheduled for non-peak months, which in Estes Park are October through June.

A community meeting will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 31 in the boardroom of Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Ave., so that business and community members can learn more about the project and ask questions of the project team. The meeting will be streamed and recorded via www.estes.org/videos. Future updates throughout the duration of the project can be accessed by visiting the project’s web page at www.DowntownEstesLoop.com. The website will be live beginning next Monday.

Construction originally was expected to begin in 2016, but fierce community controversy and a lengthy process for acquiring additional rights of way for the project delayed the scheduled start of work until 2018, then 2021. New Federal Emergency Management Agency modeling and mapping procedures for the revised floodplains within the project, triggered by the September 2013 Front Range deluge, further delayed permit applications and pushed the start of construction back two more years.

Then last October, Public Works Director Gregory Muhonen stunned trustees when he revealed that the lowest of two bids he received to complete the project —  more than $27 million — far exceeded the $15.7 million estimate consulting engineers had made in July. In November, trustees agreed to spend an extra $1 million of the town’s money to match an extra $1 million from CDOT’s Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program  and a supplementary infusion of $9.3 million from the Federal Lands Access Program.

ESTES PARK — Nearly a decade after the town of Estes Park initially applied for federal funds to help build it and more than six years after the project gained final approval from the town’s Board of Trustees, work will begin this month on Estes Park’s hotly debated 1.1-mile Downtown Loop, a one-way street reconfiguration through the center of the tourist town designed to ease congestion and speed summer access to and from Rocky Mountain National Park.

According to a news release issued by the town, the work will begin with tree removal and excavation, followed by full construction during the…

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