US 50 bridge closed west of Gunnison due to safety concerns

DENVER (KDVR) — A bridge along U.S. 50 that crosses the Blue Mesa Reservoir in southwest Colorado closed on Thursday because of cracking in a particular type of steel. Drivers will be subject to a lengthy detour to get around it.

The bridge, built in 1963, is west of Gunnison near Dillon Pinnacles. State inspectors found a defect at mile point 136.3, and a second inspection on Thursday “identified anomalies in the bridge,” according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

On a Zoom call on Friday, CDOT confirmed there was a crack in the steel grinder midway through the bridge.

“This inspection was required because of known issues with similarly constructed bridges elsewhere in the country,” CDOT said in a release. The Federal Highway Administration made the requirement.

CDOT said the issue is with the T1 Steel used on the bridge. There are only two bridges in Colorado that use the T1 Steel, and the other is also on the Blue Mesa, so crews do not anticipate this to be an issue with any other bridges in Colorado.

The closure is in place on U.S. 50 from the intersection with Colorado Highway 92 at mile point 131 to mile point 138. Drivers should plan an alternate route — which will come with a detour that adds hours of travel time.

At this time, there is no estimate on when the bridge will reopen, or if the bridge will require repairs or need to be rebuilt.

US 50 bridge crossing the Blue Mesa Reservoir near Dillon Pinnacles (Colorado Department of Transportation)

US 50 detour route between Montrose and Gunnison

The recommended detour is on Interstate 70 to the north or U.S. 160 to the south. The northern route is 354 miles and adds around six hours of travel time, while the southern route is 331 miles and adds around seven hours of travel time, CDOT said.

When seasonal mountain road closures will be lifted in Colorado

“CDOT and local partners are exploring whether it is feasible at this point in the season to clear local seasonal routes that may be able to significantly reduce the detour time for local travelers,” the release said.

On the Friday Zoom call, CDOT reiterated that no seasonal routes are open at this time. Several posts on social media alluded to alternate routes, but at this time, those roads are not safe for travel.

CDOT said County Road 26 is not open for detouring.

Several of the seasonal roads are made of dirt and gravel and are currently covered in snow. Crews are working to assess the alternate roads and find ways to safely clear them for drivers.

While driving across the bridge is not an option at this point, CDOT said recreation on the Blue Mesa under the bridge should not be impacted right now, meaning those with boats can move across the reservoir.

Travelers are urged to check for the latest road conditions.

#    #    #


Filed Under: FeaturedMedia ReleasePublic SafetyTourismTransportation

About the Author: