County and state to begin work this week on early Kebler Pass Road opening

County and state to begin work this week on early Kebler Pass Road opening

Light traffic numbers for shorter detour opening

by Mark Reaman

With Gunnison County Road 26 open as a limited detour around the closed Middle Bridge on Highway 50 near the Dillon Pinnacles, the county and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will soon be moving some resources to Kebler Pass Road. The idea is to remove snow and shore up the road to get Kebler open sooner than normal to provide another route between Gunnison County and Montrose.

The Middle Bridge was closed Thursday, April 18 after a crack was discovered in a girder that made the bridge structurally unsafe. There is no timeline for when it might reopen, and it is part of the only direct route between Gunnison and Montrose. While limited early morning and early evening detours are now open along the Lake City Cutoff Road, only cars and light trucks are allowed. No semis and heavy commercial vehicles will be permitted to use the detour. CDOT is funneling traffic to a couple of 300+ mile detours using I-70 to the north and US Highway 160 to the south. Both result in an additional six hours or more of driving.

The Lake City Cutoff detour opened at 6 a.m. Monday and initial traffic volume was light with 82 vehicles using the route. Thirty-one were counted headed west toward Montrose while 51 were heading east toward Gunnison.

County manager Matthew Birnie said that CDOT will be locating and loading equipment to work on Kebler Pass Road Monday. They will haul and mobilize the equipment Tuesday and hope to begin operations along with county crews to start the work from both sides of the road Wednesday.

“It will still take quite a while to actually get this open for traffic,” Birnie reiterated. “But this early effort to get the road dried and repaired will definitely move us along in that direction.”

Traditionally, Kebler Pass Road does not open until Memorial Day weekend but given the seriousness of the travel situation, every effort is being made to find alternative ways to travel through the Western Slope.

Meanwhile, while boating beneath the Middle Bridge is allowed, it is not recommended to linger. “Boaters are requested to NOT hang out below the bridge,” said Curecanti National Recreation Area superintendent Stuart West. “They may pass beneath the bridge, but for the safety of the crew working on the bridge inspections, CDOT has requested that boaters do not linger in the area.”

Check Also

Kebler Pass Road a no-go for this weekend

Cottonwood, Gothic will open Friday By Katherine Nettles Despite its best efforts, Gunnison County Public Works …