Entrances, roads and parking lots at Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake are expected to receive much-needed improvements in the coming years thanks to a $8.6 million federal grant.
The Larimer County commissioners on Tuesday approved grant agreements with the Federal Lands Access Program, or FLAP, on behalf of the county’s Natural Resources Department.
The funding will be used to make infrastructure improvements to the busy reservoirs, said Jennifer Almstead of the Natural Resources Department. Construction projects will relieve congestion and improve safety.
The reservoirs and their infrastructure are aging, Almstead said.
“These improvements will make a significant impact so that these reservoirs, as popular as they are, can keep up with visitor demand now into the future,” she said.
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Projects planned at Horsetooth Reservoir include re-engineering and repaving the entrance to South Bay as well as paving and striping its parking lots, said Ken Brink, visitor services manager.
A trail will be built from South Bay to Inlet Bay, taking vehicles off the roads. At Inlet Bay, the marina access road and parking lot will be paved and striped.
Brink said with the growing popularity of the reservoirs, a lot of staff time currently goes toward managing parking.
“It’s our hope that by adding curb work and pavement and very clear striping, it will be much easier for people to park in there and for us to maybe use our highly trained staff for doing more important matters than parking management as the crowds continue,” he said.
Commissioner Steve Johnson, who lives near Horsetooth Reservoir, said safety improvements are badly needed along Larimer County Road 38E because of increased traffic, which includes vehicles hauling boats.
At Carter Lake, parking lots and entrances will be paved, as will roads that access camping areas.
The county will contribute $3 million toward the overall project, with the money coming from user fees.
The reservoirs are owned by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. The bureau was instrumental in securing the grant, officials said.
The projects are expected to go through a planning process and federal environmental review that is expected to occur from 2021 to 2023.
Construction would follow, most likely beginning in 2024 and running to 2026, officials said.
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