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Blue Mesa Bridge to partially reopen before the 4th of July says CDOT

US 50 Bridge
Posted at 4:40 PM, Jun 28, 2024

GUNNISON, Colo. — After being closed since April, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has announced that they will be partially reopening the U.S. Highway 50 bridge over the Blue Mesa Reservoir ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

Since the first phase of repairs has now been completed, smaller and emergency vehicles will soon be able to cross the bridge starting Wednesday, July 3.

County Road 26 will stay open and maintained as a detour route. The seasonal Kebler Pass route is now open as well.

According to CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew, “We continue to work towards completing needed repairs ahead of winter. Over the course of the holiday weekend, the bridge will be open for 12 hours a day, which we hope encourages tourism in this area as these communities are still very much open for business. Starting on July 8, we will settle into a twice-a-day opening schedule to allow crews to continue to work on repairs throughout the day.”

Over the holiday weekend, one lane of the bridge will be open to slow, single-direction traffic between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. through Sunday, July 7.

After the holiday weekend, the bridge will open to slow, single-direction traffic from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day.

The following vehicles will be able to use the U.S. Highway 50 bridge during this reopening:

  • passenger vehicles
  • pickup trucks
  • vans
  • motorcycles
  • emergency vehicles

The following vehicles will NOT be able to use the Highway 50 bridge during this reopening:

  • RVs
  • campers
  • motorhomes
  • trucks pulling trailers
  • semi-trucks
  • buses

These vehicles will have to continue to use the County Road 26 detour until the Highway 50 bridge fully reopens.
Deep dive into the bridge closure

As we've previously reported, the bridge over the Blue Mesa Reservoir closed in April after inspectors found a 4-inch crack in the superstructure of the bridge that supports the deck where drivers travel.

WATCH: CORRECTION: A crack causes a bridge to close between Gunnison and Montrose

CORRECTION: Title: A crack causes a bridge to close between Gunnison and Montrose

Recognizing that the bridge closure created a significant detour for those looking to travel between Montrose and Gunnison, CDOT partnered with Gunnison County officials to speed up improvements to County Road 26.

They worked together to fortify the county road with gravel and reopened the road to a limited amount of essential travel.

In May, CDOT released a statement saying that their crews were hoping to reopen one lane of the broken bridge by the Fourth of July.

After CDOT crews finished their first phases of inspections, engineers were able to create a design plan to fix the bridge.

According to Matt Inzeo, Communication Director for CDOT, the crack in the Highway 50 bridge's superstructure is a common issue for similar bridges across the country.

Because the bridge is made of T-1 steel that "was mostly used in the 60s and 70s", the bridge requires a really specific fix, says Inzeo.

Even with the additional County Road 26 route, this closure has meant hours-long detours for drivers looking to get across the reservoir.

WATCH: More travel options for commuters starting Friday after US 50 bridge closure

More travel options for commuters starting Friday after US 50 bridge closure

News5 reached out to some of these commuters to hear how the closure has impacted their own drives.

WATCH: U.S. 50 bridge closure impacts businesses as well as travel

U.S. 50 bridge closure impacts businesses as well as travel

News5's Eleanor Sheahan talked to Sergio Sigala who had been trying to travel from Colorado Springs to Montrose to pick up some parts.

Sigala expressed that having the bypass route open saved him from taking a seven-hour detour.

“Well, the bypass being open, it's a lot closer than going all the way around to I-70. I guess,” Sigala said.

But drivers' commutes haven't been the only things impacted by the bridge closure. News5's Eleanor Sheahan also spoke with a ranger at the Trails Blue Mesa Recreational Ranch about how the closure has been impacting businesses.

“Yeah, we probably had 50% of the people that were gonna be here opening day just cancel,” said Ranger Nathan Flournoy.

Since the opening of the bypass route, Flournoy has been preparing for more visitors.

“Oh we're picking up now, so we're probably at 50% and I mean we could be 65-70% coming Memorial Day weekend but we have a lot of room still,” Flournoy said.

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Seven people and five pets displaced after duplex fire Friday evening

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CSFD responding to a second alarm house fire on the south west side of the city

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