As winter approaches and snow begins to fall, contractors are moving forward to build basic roads to provide access into the canyons in western Boulder County that have been largely isolated since September's flooding.

George Gerstle, Boulder County's transportation director, said the county is hoping to have accessible roads through most of Boulder's canyons by Christmas.

"We're working hard to have winter roads complete or at least under way for all of the canyons," he said.

Gerstle said that means focusing on basic two-lane roads that can be plowed through the winter months when it snows.

In the next few days, contractors will begin working on the roads through Lefthand Canyon going up to Ward and will have 30 days from the start of the construction to finish.

The road up James Canyon into Jamestown is about two weeks behind Lefthand Canyon and should start in November.

Gerstle said work on roads in Fourmile Canyon is already under way, and despite snow overnight, crews were still working Wednesday to build the road all the way up to Salina.

The county is still asking people who do not need to be up in the canyons to avoid the area while crews are working to speed up the construction.

"We have a lot of work going on in all the canyons," Gerstle said. "We want people to know we're working hard to get them back home in a safe way, and if people can stay off the roads that will speed things up."


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The Colorado Department of Transportation also said recent weather has not delayed any construction projects or repairs on any of its roads -- such as Boulder Canyon Drive or U.S. 36 to Lyons -- damaged by the flood.

"When we opened these roads, one of the things is we said it had to be safe, it had to be passable and it had to be maintainable because of the snow over the winters," said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford. "Moving forward, the roads are very safe to plow."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars.