After months of construction, the residents of DeBeque have a direct route from their town to the interstate again, as county and town officials gather to reopen the DeBeque bridge.
For longtime DeBeque resident Pat Curtis, the bridge that spans the Colorado River, connecting her town to Interstate 70 is more than just a structure.
"It means everything to the town of DeBeque," said Curtis. "It helps the town and the commute. It's the lifeline to DeBeque."
A lifeline that nearly flat lined. County officials say they began talking about repairing the bridge five years ago, and for good reason. They say the south end of the bridge was failing and that they found several holes developing on the bridge deck.
"It became a matter of public safety for us to get in here and do something right away," said Louie Dorlac, a Project Manager for Mesa County Public Works.
They say the problems were so bad they had to start repairs to the 32 year old bridge sooner than planned. Town residents say that news excited them.
"It was getting old and we were really happy to have this happen," said Dale Rickstrew, Mayor of DeBeque.
But they say dealing with the complete shut down of the bridge wasn't easy. Since October, residents have had to take a four and a half mile detour down a frontage road and up a mountain to drive in and out of their town.
"It was quite a pain for them and costly with the price of gas," said Curtis.
"We know now that within two minutes you can get on I-70," said Rickstrew. "Before, it was twenty minutes depending on weather and other circumstances."
When they learned the project would be completed a month ahead of schedule and for $70,000 under budget, town residents and officials say the delays were worth it.
"It's huge for the town and the merchants," said Rickstrew. "It's a huge deal for DeBeque, it really is."
So with a simple cut and a parade of vehicles, the people of DeBeque welcomed back their lifeline.
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