Motorists and businesses are suffering plenty of short-term pain during the reconstruction of U.S 36 between Denver and Boulder and the biggest jolt is coming next week with the demolition of the Sheridan Boulevard bridge.
But officials swear it will all be worth it when the entire Boulder Turnpike is opened in 2016 as a overhauled highway that will handle high-speed buses, toll traffic and bike paths.
"Certainly a lot of people would like to see all of this get done but it won't be finished overnight," Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison said. "We have to look ahead and see what's best for the highway for the long-term."
All the fixes, which total $425 million, also mean several bridges will be replaced including the one over Sheridan Boulevard.
Crews will start this weekend and its prompting the Colorado Department of Transportation to warn of delays along the highway and a suggestion that drivers avoid the area altogether.
"It's definitely the largest intersection that's been impacted by the work on U.S. 36," CDOT spokeswoman Crystal Morgan said.
The first phase of the U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project stretches from Federal Boulevard to 88th Street in Louisville and will be open to the public in 2015.
The second phase, from 88th Street to Table Mesa Drive in Boulder, recently began construction and will open in 2016.
A weekend closure of the northbound and southbound Sheridan Boulevard at the bridge over U.S. 36 will start at 8 p.m. Friday and will continue through 5:30 a.m. Monday, when traffic will be shifted to the new Sheridan bridge in Westminster.
Demolition of the old bridge begins Monday and will continue through Jan. 24.
During the closure of Sheridan, motorists will be detoured to West 92nd Avenue and West 88th Avenue. All of the U.S. 36 on- and off-ramps to Sheridan will be open, but there will be no through traffic over the bridge, according to CDOT.
During demolition, U.S. 36 will be closed in both directions nightly for a quarter mile on each side of the Sheridan bridge. Monday through Jan. 23, the highway will be closed 10 p.m.-5:30 a.m. On Jan. 24, it will close at 11 p.m. and reopen Jan. 25 at 8 a.m.
During the closures, traffic will be detoured at Sheridan. But routes will not be affected, according to CDOT.
After the existing bridge is demolished, crews will begin building the remaining portion of th Sheridan Boulevard bridge. The final bridge will have an additional northbound lane and double left turn lanes in each direction. The final configuration will open in fall 2014.
CDOT's Morgan said homeowners and businesses in the area were given a heads up on the Sheridan bridge work late last year. Still, she said, it's still likely to catch some people off guard.
"It's a big closure and it's a major crossway," she said. "Hopefully, it won't cause too many problems."