Open for two-way traffic December 23 until spring
[ By Katherine Nettles ]
For anyone driving to Montrose, Grand Junction, Telluride or Durango this winter, the travel and planning process is about to get a lot simpler. Two-way traffic access will be opening back up on US 50 along Little Blue Creek Canyon beginning this holiday season and lasting until spring.
On Tuesday, December 14, project officials with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced the highway improvement project in the canyon would take a pause for winter beginning Thursday, December 23 at noon and not restart until spring. Until December 23, officials announced the road would be open daily to alternating one-way traffic during the day and nighttime closures would cease.
“We will pause for winter,” confirmed project spokesperson H. Mavis Fitzgerald with Project Resource Studio, which handles communications for the project. Fitzgerald said this winter break was always part of the plan, and just came later than expected.
“We were just working for as long as possible until ‘real’ winter weather came in. We did always project this would be December, but it was nice for so long we were able to keep working,” she said.
There was no firm date set for restarting the project in the spring, and there is no estimate of how the longer period of work this month or coming pause in construction might affect the project completion date.
The project began in April 2021 and involves widening and realigning the roadway along the canyon corridor between Gunnison and Montrose from mile markers 123 to 127 for safer and more efficient vehicular travel. The extensive construction and rock blasting has required overnight and daytime closures of the roadway during weekdays with limited single lane openings, and two-way traffic available only on weekends. The initial estimate for completing the project is November 2022, and no changes to that end date have been announced.
In an update to Gunnison County commissioners this week, Gunnison Chamber of Commerce director Celeste Helminski said most of the inquiries her office has received in the past eight months has been in regard to the road closures on Highway 50.
“The biggest question this year was, ‘Is the highway really closed?’” she commented. “We dealt with that quite a bit.”
For the next couple months, at least, the answer to that question will be much simpler as the highway remains open barring any emergencies.
To sign up for text or email alerts on the project and any changes to closure schedules, text us50 to 21000, email us50LittleBlue@gmail.com or call 970-340-4333.