The popular scenic overlook atop Davidson Mesa will be closed for a year beginning Monday as contractors use the pull-out along Boulder-bound U.S. 36 as a staging area for the multi-year turnpike widening project.

When the overlook reopens in late 2014 or early 2015, it should have safer access, bike amenities and a new Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau kiosk to replace the one taken out by an errant driver earlier this year.

Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Amy Ford said the overlook will be closed for safety reasons as the widening takes place.

Part of that project will include a new access and exit road for the overlook that should be safer than the existing one, where a confused -- or possibly drunk -- driver could end up going east in the westbound lanes.

Much of the cost of the improvements should be folded into the budget of the $425 million U.S. 36 Managed Lanes project, officials said.

The turnpike overhaul, which began in the summer of 2012, ultimately will widen the highway by 40 feet in each direction in order to add high-occupancy toll lanes between Federal Boulevard and the Table Mesa park-n-Ride in Boulder.

A new bus rapid transit system also will be added to the turnpike.

Boulder City Councilman Tim Plass, who is the council liaison to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the closure represents an opportunity to significantly improve the overlook.

Early construction plans called for the overlook to be closed well into 2015, but Plass and members of the visitors bureau appealed upon CDOT to set the staging so that it would open sooner.

"Especially after the flood, we want people to know that Boulder is there and open for business," he said.

The new overlook should also include connections to regional bike paths and bicycle parking, Plass said.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau also is looking into interpretative signage about the area's geology, ecology and history, along with a new kiosk, which would be funded by the organization.

There is even some possibility of placing a large buffalo statue at the site, though there are concerns about vandalism and maintenance, Plass said.

"There's a real opportunity to do some improvements that can enhance that area as a gateway to Boulder," he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355, or