US 50 Corridor, Blue Creek Canyon— Colorado Department of Transportation, Region 3

With the goal of improving safety, operations, and level of service, Muller was tasked with upgrading aging roadway to current standards by widening shoulders and improving horizontal and vertical alignment. The previous rural, two-lane roadway traversed the mountainous terrain of Gunnison and Montrose counties with winding roads and steep grades. For about 2.5 miles, the roadway traverses Blue Creek Canyon where steep rock cuts are present on one side of the roadway with Blue Creek on the other side.

The Muller team used an innovative technique for a feasibility study for the Blue Creek Canyon portion of the road by conducting a facilitated design charette. Our team considered alternatives to widen the road and mitigate very sharp curves, rock fall, and clear zone issues in the canyon.

There is a major land slide near a CDOT sand/salt dome near the middle of the project. Our team conducted extensive geotechnical investigations and developed design recommendations to mitigate the slide to stabilize the road. Based on design team recommendations, CDOT constructed an innovative system using lightweight Expanded Polystyrene Fill (EPS) to stabilize the landslide. The fill reduces loads on the unstable materials below the mountainside roadway.  Along an adjacent segment of roadway, over 100 4-foot diameter coupled shear piles are being drilled into bedrock to mitigate landslide movement.

In addition, Muller completed two other sections of US 50 widening (2.5-mile and 3-mile segments) for CDOT Region 3 in Montrose County east and west of Cimarron, Colorado.