US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is this project necessary?
Between 2000 and 2018, 230 crashes have occurred in this area with 67 injuries, 156 instances of property damage, and eight fatalities. This, coupled with the fact it can be hard to negotiate large, slow-moving recreation vehicles and trucks through the canyon, makes the canyon a challenging driving environment for everyone. This project is designed to make the canyon safer and improve the driving experience between Gunnison and Montrose.
Why is it necessary to close US 50?
This project requires blasting rock from several sections of the canyon walls along US 50 and removing loose rocks and material after each blast. Due to the tight right-of-way in the canyon corridor and the unpredictable nature of rock blasting and scaling operations, US 50 needs to be closed to allow the contractor to safely blast the rock without causing harm to the traveling public.
Why did Central Federal Lands (CFL) decide against doing work only during night closures? That sounds more convenient for nearby residents and businesses?
After evaluating all the options and considering the type of work needing to be done, CFL determined the project would be too dangerous to complete only at night. Rock blasting, in particular, is extremely difficult to do at night when darkness can obscure loose rocks and material from eyesight, creating unsafe situations for workers and the traveling public. By working day and night, crews will be able to do rock blasting and scaling work safely during daylight hours and truck hauling operations during nighttime hours to remove the material from the canyon.
Will cycling be allowed during the closure?
CFL and CDOT strongly recommend that cyclists avoid attempting to travel through the US 50 Little Blue Creek Canyon improvement project. The roadway will be regularly closed for several hours at a time, due to rock blasting and other heavy-duty work. Queues on either side of the project will have limited facilities and all traffic must wait until the next opening. During the limited open hours, the roadway will be reduced to dirt and gravel in places and often with alternating, one-lane traffic.
Will oversized trucks be allowed during the closure?
CFL and CDOT will allow oversized trucks through the closure whenever possible; however, lane width restrictions preventing oversized travel will be necessary during some phases of work. The highway will be fully opened to two-way traffic on the weekends allowing oversized vehicles through the project area.
Will access to recreation areas be maintained during the closure?
Yes, access to recreation areas along US 50 will be maintained throughout construction. Depending on construction activities that are occurring, motorists should anticipate delays getting in and out of these recreation areas.
How will emergency response vehicles get through the project when the highway is closed?
Access for emergency response vehicles will be maintained throughout construction, and project managers will have direct communication with emergency responders needing to travel through the project.
How will the project communicate to residents, businesses, and the traveling public during construction?
The project team will use various communication methods to keep the public updated during construction. This will include sharing information through communication channels used in Montrose and Gunnison, using electronic message boards along the road, sending out email/text message updates, the project website and information hotline.
The main detour route is I-70; what if I-70 is closed due to a rockslide in Glenwood Canyon or some other major incident?
The US 50 project will immediately cease construction operations that impact traffic, suspend full closures, and open the highway to single-lane, alternating traffic conditions until the incident on I-70 is cleared and I-70 is reopened.
If I live along US 50 (e.g., in the Arrowhead development) will I have access to my home?
Yes, access for residents will be maintained throughout construction. Depending on construction activities that are occurring, residents may need to wait when leaving their property or returning home. More specific information about wait times will be determined once the project begins. Access to Arrowhead will be provided on a limited basis until July 31, 2021. After July 31, 2021, access will be provided via single-lane, alternating traffic operations.
How will mail and deliveries for residents and businesses near the project be maintained?
Project leaders are working with USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other delivery companies to identify the best ways to maintain postal and package service on a regular basis for all affected residents and businesses, including Arrowhead. More details will be available closer to the start of construction.