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Opening of U.S. Highway 550 realignment hits delay; CDOT targets mid-June

Roundabout at Grandview interchange needs lights before Farmington Hill can be abandoned
Looking south: U.S. Highway 550 winds up the steep Farmington Hill from U.S. Highway 160 east of Durango. The connection was scheduled to be retired on May 29 with the completion of the Grandview interchange and Highway 550 realignment. But work isn’t quite finished on the Grandview roundabout, which requires lighting per state statute. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Goodbyes and farewells to the U.S. Highway 550 Farmington Hill route offered earlier this month by Colorado Department of Transportation officials and locals were a little premature.

The traffic switch from Farmington Hill to the new Highway 550 realignment with the Grandview interchange scheduled to occur May 29 has been delayed as a result of unfinished work, according to CDOT.

CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes said in an email to The Durango Herald on Friday the traffic switch to the new alignment won’t take place as scheduled because lighting in the Grandview roundabout has not yet been completed.

“Per federal regulation, lighting is required at all roundabouts, and the project’s electrical subcontractor was called away by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to assist areas of Houston that had lost power after recent storms,” she said.

The new traffic switch date will be announced in June once it’s confirmed, she said.

Following the traffic switch, CDOT will begin work reclaiming the Farmington Hill alignment, in addition to roadside work on Highway 550 that doesn’t impact traffic and signal removal, median work and inlet installation on U.S. Highway 160 at the bottom of Farmington Hill.

Connection South Project Director David Valentinelli previously told the Herald that La Plata County owns most if not all of the land underneath the old Farmington Hill connection.

Once CDOT has removed asphalt, stabilized slopes and reseeded uncovered topsoil with native grasses, stewardship of the property will revert to the county, he said.

CDOT previewed the nearly finished Grandview interchange and Highway 550 realignment during an “open drive” event on May 9. The realignment was a $100 million project to bypass Farmington Hill and connect to the Grandview Interchange, known locally for years as the “Bridge to Nowhere” because of significant construction delays.

cburney@durangoherald.com