Baucus, Tester, Say Highway Cash En Route

By Beacon Staff

Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester are on the brink of securing $6 million in federal funds they requested to complete the long-awaited U.S. Highway 93 bypass.

The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development set aside the money for the project in a fiscal year 2008 spending bill, the lawmakers announced in a prepared statement. The full Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the funds by week’s end.

After years of planning and design work, officials have started constructing the new bypass, which will provide a truck route around Kalispell, and attempt to relieve congestion in the center of the city.

The 8-mile project will expand U.S. Highway 93 to four lanes and provide numerous interchanges and on/off ramps along the city’s west side.

Baucus and Tester said U.S. 93 is the highest volume non-Interstate route in Montana.

“This is excellent news for Kalispell,” Kalispell Mayor Pam Kennedy said in a prepared statement. “We are experiencing strong growth in the city and in Flathead County. It is critically important that we plan accordingly and develop safer, less congested route for travelers, commerce and families.”