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Transportation

Heads Up: Loveland’s U.S. 34 Exit Will Close For 2 Nights To Prep For Bridge Expansion

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Matt Bloom/KUNC
Trucks drive along Interstate 25 near the U.S. 34 exit in Loveland.

Northern Colorado’s busiest highway interchange, the U.S. 34 exit in Loveland, will be closed for two nights starting Wednesday. Construction crews are removing the bridge’s steel arches to make way for a multi-million dollar expansion project.

From 9 p.m. Wednesday night to 5 a.m. Thursday morning, traffic along Interstate 25 will be rerouted through nearby frontage roads. The same overnight closure will repeat Thursday into Friday.

East-to-west travel across the U.S. 34 bridge will also be rerouted during those times. Drivers should expect delays.

The closures kick off a monthslong process of widening the U.S. 34 bridge over I-25. The final product will leave U.S. Highway 34 with three lanes in each direction by the end of next year.

Underneath, the bridge will also be widened to make way for the Colorado Department of Transportation’s long-term goal of having four lanes of I-25 traffic in each direction.

“By building (the U.S. 34 bridge) now we’ve laid the infrastructure in place so we’re ready to build that next level (in the future),” said Jared Fiel, a CDOT spokesman. “So we won’t have to completely rebuild the bridge at a later time.”

 

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Credit Courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
An illustration of the future three-tiered U.S. 34 exit in Loveland.

Each day, more than 85,000 vehicles travel through the Loveland interchange. That number is only expected to grow in the future as the region’s population increases, Fiel said.

The ultimate vision for the exit is a three-deck design similar to the “Mousetrap” intersection between I-70 and I-25 northwest of Denver.

On top, Highway 34 traffic will flow freely east-to-west between Greeley and Loveland. On the bottom, I-25 traffic will flow north-to-south uninterrupted. The space in between will host on and off ramps.

The structure is designed with minimal traffic lights, which will help decrease congestion, Fiel said.

“This is the busiest thing in Northern Colorado,” Fiel said. “Knowing the importance of the interchange is the whole reason for developing it that way.”

The exit’s signature “Equinox” horse sculpture will also not return upon the new bridge’s completion, Fiel said. The public art was removed by the City of Loveland earlier this year and is being relocated.

The bridge expansion is one piece of CDOT’s whopping $500 million price tag for the overall north I-25 expansion, which includes adding a third “express” lane along I-25 from Fort Collins to Berthoud. Other interchanges, including the Johnstown 402 exit are getting makeovers, too.

The entire project is scheduled to wrap by 2023.

Fiel said despite coronavirus-related hits to the state budget, the project is continuing on its scheduled timeline.

“This project has all the funding it needs,” Fiel said. “What we’re being told from the state is that any projects that are underway will continue.”

Construction crews are also practicing social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment on site, Fiel added.

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