County Road 26 to open Monday for local, critical trips

Limited travel for commuters using the Lake City Cutoff opens after state and county collaboration as bridge closure continues

April 21, 2024 - On Monday, April 22, pilot cars will lead passenger vehicles through the detour two times a day in each direction.

Montrose and Gunnison Counties — This weekend, CDOT and Gunnison County are working together to accelerate improvements to County Road 26 (Lake City Cutoff) so it can open Monday for local commuter travel between Montrose and Gunnison.  At the same time, engineers continue to conduct safety inspections of the US Highway 50 bridge crossing the Blue Mesa Reservoir at Dillon Pinnacles. This bridge, located west of Gunnison at Mile Point 136.3, closed Thursday in the interest of public safety after an inspection revealed a crack in one of the girders. The technical structure name for the bridge is K-07-B. 

Recognizing the US 50 closure creates a significant detour for commuters traveling between Montrose and Gunnison, CDOT and Gunnison County officials this weekend prioritized getting a shorter access route in place for local travel between the two communities. That collaboration will continue as officials work to further fortify the road with gravel and manage traffic to a level that the road can safely carry.

“We are starting slow in order to increase the chances we can go faster later. The impact on western Colorado cannot be understated and we are exhausting all opportunities and partnerships to mitigate the impacts of the bridge closure,” said Martin Schmidt, Assistant Gunnison County Manager for Public Works.

On Monday, April 22, pilot cars will lead  passenger vehicles through the access route two times a day in each direction. Because CR 26 is a high-mountain, unpaved road that is not intended to accommodate the traffic volumes of US 50, travel times will be limited and commercial vehicles exceeding a 16,001 gross vehicle weight rating are prohibited. The schedule for piloted travel is:

  • 6 to 6:30 a.m. and 6 to 6:30 p.m. for westbound travel 
  • 7 to 7:30 a.m. and 7 to 7:30 p.m. for eastbound travel 

The queue for westbound pilot car operations will start near the intersection of CO 149 and CR 26 and the queue for eastbound travel will start near the intersection of US 50 and CR 26. The travel time on the access route is expected to be 30 minutes or more.

County Road 26 will only be open for local, essential travel during these timeframes. The road will remain closed at all other times for the ongoing restoration work needed to ensure the road remains safe for travel.

A hotline and email continue to be in place to assist customers with questions about the closure. Anyone with questions can reach out via 970-648-4423 or [email protected]. Calls will be closely monitored and will receive a prompt reply. Information is also available on the project website at Travelers should refer to or the smartphone COtrip Planner app to plan an alternate route.

“CDOT appreciates Gunnison county’s dedication and hard work as we cooperate to offer more options to help the western slope manage this safety closure.  CDOT will continue to support the county as we focus on the opening of County Road 26 to serve the critical needs of residents,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “County Road 26 is an important local route that is up to five hours more efficient than detouring via state highways. However, this road currently has a natural roadbed and can only accommodate limited traffic - so it is important that we help Gunnison County focus this capacity on the needs of local communities most impacted by the closure.”

There are two recommended detours for through travel via Interstate 70 to the north or US 160 to the south and these detours add six to eight hours of travel time. CDOT is coordinating with emergency service providers to ensure emergency response is unaffected.

Travel Impacts  

  • US 50 is closed between Montrose and Gunnison
  • Recommended alternate routes are I-70 to the north or US 160 to the south
  • A limited, local detour is in place for travel at specific times

Project Contact Information 

For additional information about this project, contact the project team.  

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