The purpose of the project is to reduce congestion and improve safety along the existing roadway network for both motorized and non-motorized users between Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The project focuses on Elkhorn Avenue, Moraine Avenue (US 36) and Riverside Drives in downtown Estes Park.
The “Downtown Estes Loop” roadway realignment project builds on previous transportation planning studies and public outreach activities for improving transportation downtown. The Estes Valley Transportation Alternatives Study completed in 2003 identified potential improvements to the downtown street network including a one-way couplet system utilizing Elkhorn, Moraine and Riverside roadways. The study also recommended many transit and parking improvements, which have been advanced and implemented over the last decade, including: implementation of transit service; completion of a 2013 Transit and Parking Study; and the planned Visitor Center Parking Structure. Additionally, in 2012, the Roadmap to the Future report was completed by the Estes Park Transportation Visioning Committee which was a citizen led committee to develop a vision for Estes Park’s transportation system 20 years in the future. This report recommended 9 scenarios including: reroute US 36 to West Riverside, create one-way couplets on existing roadways, and re-route RMNP traffic to West Riverside.
Previous transportation studies completed by the Town of Estes Park can be referenced at: https://www.colorado.gov/townofestespark/transportationstudies
In the Spring of 2013, the Town initiated a public outreach process to gather input on the community’s priorities for improving transportation downtown. The public weighed in on several transportation-related project options, one of which was the conversion of traffic through the core downtown area from two-way to one-way traffic, creating a loop which would increase capacity by up to 40 percent. This one-way couplet option was the majority of the participating public’s preferred solution to improve traffic flow.
The Town Board voted to proceed with a competitive funding application for the one-way couplet. The Town submitted an application for funding through the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), administered through the Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD). The application was successful, and the Town was awarded $13 million in FLAP funds for construction of the one-way couplet concept. To secure federal funds, the FLAP program requires a local match. In order to secure matching funds, the Town partnered with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to submit an application for CDOT’s Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program.
The Town was awarded $4.2 million through CDOT’s RAMP program for West Elkhorn Avenue. This funding will be used as both the local match for the FLAP funding, and to rehabilitate West Elkhorn Avenue (new pavement resurfacing, new striping and upgrades to signing). The terms of the RAMP application require that Estes Park take over ownership from CDOT of West Elkhorn Avenue from Moraine Avenue to West Wonderview Avenue (US 34).
These funding programs present Estes Park with a unique opportunity to make major transportation and congestion improvements in downtown at no net cost to the local government – with the added potential for other community benefits as a result of the project.