Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Highway 50 construction means years of major travel impacts

Travel between Gunnison and Montrose will be affected starting in 2020

By Cayla Vidmar

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are participating in a public process for highway improvement on 3.8 miles of Highway 50 west of Gunnison. The project, which is anticipated to begin in two summers, will include complete closure of the highway between Gunnison and Montrose for certain work activities, with major detours and a duration of upwards of three years.

The segment of highway being worked on is located 33 miles west of Gunnison in Little Blue Creek Canyon at the hairpin curve, and down into the canyon. The project will be widening the road into two travel lanes, with four- to eight-foot-wide paved shoulders, along with a “climbing lane” heading eastbound.

The project is slated to begin in late spring or early summer 2020, and “could last two, and possibly, three years,” says Doug Hecox, FHWA spokesperson. Hecox writes that for certain work activities, the highway will need to be closed in both directions, with detours taking commuters over I-70, Highway 160, or State Highway 92. The details on how long a highway closure might last, or how flagging might work when the highway is open to traffic, including wait times, have not been established yet, according to Hecox.

Public open houses were held last week in Montrose and then in Gunnison, and were well attended. The FHWA and CDOT are using public and “motor carrier industry” feedback to inform decisions on the highway closure, with refined concepts to be established next spring and communicated to the public at that time.

Information on the project can be found at goo.gl/ZN3nij (case sensitive). Materials from the open houses will be uploaded to the site in early November.

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