Longer closure in place for US 50 between Montrose & Gunnison

Travel Advisory

May 25, 2021 - Closure is due to rock blasting results and will extend into the evening of Tuesday, May 25.

Montrose & Gunnison CountiesOn Monday, May 24, 2021, the Little Blue Creek Canyon project team announced 24-hour full roadway closure on US Highway 50 between Gunnison and Montrose. The closure is anticipated to last from Monday, May 24, through tomorrow, May 25, until 5:30 p.m. The 24-hour closure is necessary for the safe removal of a large, loose section of rock which is in danger of coming down onto the roadway. During the closure, this section of US 50 is fully closed in both directions and no passenger or commercial vehicles will be able to pass. Emergency vehicles will be able to get through the project area during the closure. 

Rock blasting is necessary to complete the safety-critical US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon project, which began in April. Regular, lengthy closures on the highway are in place during weekdays, to allow for rock blasting activities.

“On the afternoon of Monday, May 24, during regularly scheduled activities associated with rockwork, crews discovered a large rock formation to be compromised. The rock formation sits approximately 100 feet above the highway and is likely 1,000 tons. Due to the safety of motorists, the full roadway closure is necessary,” said Kathleen Wanatowicz, Public Information Manager for the Little Blue Creek Canyon Project.” We thank everyone for their patience as we work to safely remove the rock formation and create a clear roadway.”

Updates about the closure will continue to be sent to stakeholders, residents, business owners and local media via text and email (please see below for information on how to sign up for both).

 large, loose section of rock on Little Blue Canyon large, loose section of rock which is in danger of coming down onto the roadway

The project location is between Montrose and Gunnison (Mile Points 123 -127), and is approximately 30 miles from each community. The project, a priority for improving safety along the US 50 corridor, is estimated to be complete by November 4, 2022. The most impactful construction, roadway and traffic operations are anticipated to take place during the first year. 

Improvements will focus on safety along US 50 in the project area, including realignment and widening US 50 to two 12-foot travel lanes with two 4-foot-wide paved shoulders. This work is essential to improve safety for motorists traveling through Little Blue Creek Canyon, which currently has narrow lanes and sharp turns.

How to Receive Updates

For updates about the closure and additional project information, contact the project team.

  • Project hotline: 970-340-4333
  • Project email: us50LittleBlue@gmail.com
  • Project webpage: us50info.com
  • Project text updates: Text us50 to 21000
  • A text message notifications system is available for this project. Register for alerts by texting us50 to 21000; charges may apply. 

Detour Options During Closures

When US 50 is closed, local passenger vehicles and small trucks can use Colorado Highway 92 as a local alternate route. All other trucks and recreation vehicles over 70 feet in length will need to use I-70 to the north, US 160 to the south, or wait for one of the planned openings. Please allow additional time due to the restricted open times and single-lane operations.

Vehicles carrying hazardous materials will need to use I-70 to the north, US 160 to the south, or wait for one of the planned openings. Please allow additional time due to the restricted open times and single-lane operations.

Local Detour Map

CO 92 detour for local traffic only and trucks less than 70’ in length. No hazardous materials will be permitted on the detour. 

CO 92 detour for local traffic on US 50

Official detour map 

CO 92 detour for local traffic on US 50 and US 160

Usual Traffic & Recreation Impacts

Motorists should prepare for long delays during the opening roadway windows and plan to take detour routes. Estimated delay times during roadway opening windows are between 30 minutes to one hour.

Travel impacts for motorists illustrated in the table below will be consistent throughout the first year of the project. Motorists should plan for single lane closures, full roadway closures, reduced speed limits, and narrow roads. Significant delays are anticipated. If there is an emergency closure of Interstate 70, full closures on this project will be reduced.

US 50 will be open to two-way traffic with no delays from Friday at 5:30 p.m. – Monday at 8:30 a.m. 

Full roadway closures usually take place Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Full roadway closures will occur through the night Monday – Thursday 7:30 p.m. – 6:30 a.m.  Plan your travel around the opening windows and be prepared to queue at designated areas. 

Estimated Construction Timeline and Traffic Impacts: April 2021-November 2022

Project Funding & Partners

American Civil Constructors West Coast (ACC) continues to work in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands Highway Division (FHWA-CFLHD), and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to minimize impacts on local communities as much as possible. The US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon improvement project is the result of a partnership with the FHWA-CFLHD and CDOT. Funding for the $40 million project is provided by a $20 million grant from the Colorado Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), with CDOT providing the matching $20 million. The project is also in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the National Park Service (NPS). Work also includes guardrail replacement, additional rockfall catchment area, new signage, and striping.