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First phase of reopening for Blue Mesa bridge in Colorado expected to start on July 4 or earlier

First phase of reopening for Blue Mesa bridge in Colorado expected to start on July 4 or earlier
First phase of reopening for Blue Mesa bridge in Colorado expected to start on July 4 or earlier 00:20

Transportation officials in Colorado are sharing a plan this week to reopen Highway 50's Blue Mesa bridge in a limited fashion in July or possibly earlier. The bridge was closed to traffic a month ago when concerns arose about whether it is safe to drive across. Repairs have been underway since then -- while Highway 50 has been closed -- and the plan is now to allow emergency vehicles and lighter vehicles across the bridge on the 4th of July or possibly earlier.


The bridge is located near Dillon Pinnacle and stretches across the Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is located west of Gunnison and east of Montrose.

An inspection last month found a 3 inch crack in the bridge as well as some buckled parts. Soon afterward the lieutenant governor declared a disaster emergency and an emergency request for $10 million in repair funds was granted by the Transportation Commission of Colorado. A much more in-depth inspection has now been completed, and the determination is that the integrity of the bridge is not threatened by that crack and other "internal anomalies, or defects" that were found.

"The internal anomalies do require mitigation and repair for long-term serviceability of the bridge," CDOT wrote in a news release.

Trucks and larger commercial vehicles will still be restricted from crossing the bridge with the first phase of reopening.

"It is important to note that the completion of the first phase is dependent on critical factors, including weather," CDOT wrote.

CDOT's goal is to have the bridge fully back open to vehicles of all weights in the fall. They said the second phase of repairs "requires more time to complete and can be performed safely in between in-service traffic openings on the bridge."

Between now and July, CDOT will allow more vehicles to use the County Road 26 bypass to get back and forth from Montrose to Gunnison. It's a long, rough gravel road and CDOT pilot cars have been leading traffic through in a very limited manner for the past month. Starting this week there will be seven different releases of traffic across 26 on all days except Wednesdays. On Wednesdays the amount of traffic let through on County Road 26 will be more limited so repairs to that road can be made. Only vehicles of "legal maximum vehicle dimensions and weights" are allowed on 26.

Residents in Montrose County, Gunnison County and Hinsdale County who are interested in learning more about CDOT's plan for the Blue Mesa bridge can attend a town hall meeting on Wednesday night at the Montrose County Event Center. It starts at 6:30 p.m. More information is also posted on

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