US 50 Bridge between Gunnison and Montrose (2024 Update)

US 50 Bridge between Gunnison and Montrose (2024 Update)

By Ursula Nizalowski


Starting April 18th of this year, the US 50 bridge between the cities of Montrose and Gunnison
has been closed. This is primarily due to safety reasons with no certainty of when it will reopen.
But last week, some alternative routes became available. And so here is an update on the
situation and how one should proceed when traveling in that part of Colorado.

What’s the Situation?

Recently, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was inspecting bridges in the Blue
Mesa area, which is east of Montrose and where the ongoing Little Blue Creek Canyon Project is
being conducted. There CDOT workers “found a crack in the steel” of the US 50 bridge, also
known as K-07-B, on April 18th, 2024, according to KDVR . Why this prompted a closure is
because the bridge allows vehicles to cross over the Blue Mesa Reservoir, a large body of water
that’s the size of a lake, without needing to get on a boat. Additionally, the bridge itself is old
(being built in 1963 ) and the type of steel it uses has been shown to be defective on similar
bridges across the country. Hence the Federal Highway Administration requiring CDOT’s
bridge inspections to begin with.

Little Blue Creek Canyon Project
Alternative Routes

Less than a week after the US 50 bridge was closed, an alternative route was approved by CDOT
in the form of the County Road 26 bypass, or CR 26 for short. However, it will only be open for
travel two times per day due to not having the same level of traffic capacity as the US 50
highway. In addition, certain vehicles won’t be permitted to take this route and they’ll have to  use other routes instead. So beginning April 24th, 2024, the Gunnison County website listed
these times and conditions for travel in the Blue Mesa area:
* 6:30 to 7:00 AM & PM for westbound travel beginning at CO 149 and CR 26
* 7:30 to 8:00 AM & PM for eastbound travel beginning at US 50 and CR 26
* No trailers of any type will be allowed on CR 26
* The CR 26 detour will not be open to commercial vehicles more than 16,000 GVWR
(Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)
* Prohibited vehicles will need to use Interstate 70 or Colorado Highway 160 as detours
to travel between Gunnison and Montrose instead of CR 26

For any further updates on the US 50 bridge situation, or questions regarding accidents in the
area, feel free to contact attorney Rick Wagner .