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Posted on: April 6, 2021

Significant US 50 road detours and closures have begun

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Elise Thatcher 
NW Colorado Communications Manager

303.927.8299 | elise.thatcher@state.co.us


Project email: us50LittleBlue@gmail.com

Project webpage: www.us50info.com

 
April 5, 2021

Significant US 50 road detours and closures start next week

Work begins this week on critical US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon safety project

Map of the US-50 Project Area


MONTROSE & GUNNISON COUNTIES – Construction on the US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon 4-mile critical safety improvement project began mobilization on Monday, April 5, with roadway closures and detours starting next Monday, April 12. The project location is between Montrose and Gunnison (Mile Points 123 -127), and is approximately 30 miles from each community. The project, a priority for improving safety along the US 50 corridor, is estimated to be complete by November 4, 2022. The most impactful construction, roadway and traffic operations are anticipated to take place during the first year. 

Due to blasting in rockfall areas of the project, closures are necessary for completing the project while still ensuring the safety of the traveling public. The Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA-CFLHD) will continue to work closely with contractor American Civil Constructors Mountain West (ACC) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to lessen impacts from closures whenever possible. 

This work includes coordinating with nearby communities, ranchers and other stakeholders. These commitments include:

  • A dedicated coordinator for trucks with livestock or other agricultural products will be available by phone and on the ground to help minimize delays.
  • Safe, sanitary queues and truck pull-offs with temporary restrooms and that can accommodate driver rest requirements.
  • Work on the west end of the project, near access to the Arrowhead community, will be prioritized to ensure Arrowhead community members will have reduced travel impacts.
  • Improved communications services along US 50 in Little Blue Creek Canyon, both short term and long term.    
  • Monthly virtual open house events during the construction season, held by telephone or video, to ensure that there is a consistent venue to raise feedback and receive project updates.

Improvements will focus on safety along US 50 in the project area, including realignment and widening US 50 to two 12-foot travel lanes with two 4-foot-wide paved shoulders. This work is essential to improve safety for motorists traveling through Little Blue Creek Canyon, which currently has narrow lanes and sharp turns.


TRAFFIC & RECREATION IMPACTS

Motorists should prepare for long delays during the opening roadway windows and plan to take detour routes. Estimated delay times during roadway opening windows are between 30 minutes to one hour.

Travel impacts for motorists illustrated in the table below will be consistent throughout the first year of the project. Motorists should plan for single lane closures, full roadway closures, reduced speed limits, and narrow roads. Significant delays are anticipated. If there is an emergency closure of Interstate 70, full closures on this project will be reduced.

US 50 will be open to two-way traffic with no delays from Friday at 5:30 p.m. – Monday at 8:30 a.m. 

Full roadway closures will be Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Full roadway closures will occur through the night Monday – Thursday 7:30 p.m. – 6:30 a.m.  Plan your travel around the opening windows and be prepared to queue at designated areas. 

Estimated Construction Timeline and Traffic Impacts: April 2021-November 2022

Table of the estimated closure schedule for the US 50 project

Detour Options During Nighttime Closures:

When US 50 is closed, local passenger vehicles and small trucks can use Colorado Highway 92 as a local alternate route. All other trucks and recreation vehicles over 70 feet in length will need to use I-70 to the north, US 160 to the south, or wait for one of the planned openings. Please allow additional time due to the restricted open times and single-lane operations.

Vehicles carrying hazardous materials will need to use I-70 to the north, US 160 to the south, or wait for one of the planned openings. Please allow additional time due to the restricted open times and single-lane operations.

LOCAL DETOUR MAP

CO 92 detour for local traffic only and trucks less than 70’ in length. No hazardous materials will be permitted on the detour.


map of the CO 92 local traffic detour route

OFFICIAL DETOUR MAP 

i-70 Detour Map


PROJECT FUNDING AND PARTNERS

American Civil Constructors West Coast (ACC) continues to work in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA-CFLHD), and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to minimize impacts on local communities as much as possible. The US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon improvement project is the result of a partnership with the FHWA-CFLHD and CDOT. Funding for the $40 million project is provided by a $20 million grant from the Colorado Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), with CDOT providing the matching $20 million. The project is also in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the National Park Service (NPS). Work also includes guardrail replacement, additional rockfall catchment area, new signage, and striping.


PROJECT & TRAVEL INFO 

For additional information about this project, including assistance for agricultural producers and residents of the Arrowhead community, contact the project team.

  • Project hotline: 970-340-4333
  • Project email: us50LittleBlue@gmail.com
  • Project webpage: www.us50info.com
  • Project text updates: Text us50 to 21000
  • A text message notifications system is available for this project. Register for alerts by texting us50 to 21000; charges may apply. 

Travelers are urged to "know before you go." Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts, and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:


REMEMBER: SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE

The following tips are to help you stay safe while traveling through maintenance and construction work zones.

  • Do not speed in work zones. Obey the posted speed limits.
  • Stay Alert! Expect the unexpected.
  • Watch for workers. Drive with caution.
  • Don't change lanes unnecessarily.
  • Avoid using mobile devices such as phones while driving in work zones.
  • Turn on headlights so that workers and other drivers can see you.
  • Be especially alert at night while driving in work zones.
  • Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.
  • Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Anticipate lane shifts and merge when directed to do so.
  • Be patient!

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