Going-to-the-Sun Road Repairs Could Cost an Extra $100 Million

By Beacon Staff

WEST GLACIER (AP) – Restoration of the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is expected to cost an extra $100 million because of inflation in the construction sector, the National Park Service said Tuesday.

The project originally was estimated to cost between $140 million to $170 million and take seven to eight years to complete. But the Park Service, along with its partner agency, the Federal Highway Administration, now expect it to cost between $240 million to $270 million over the next eight to 10 years if the project receives full funding.

The new price tag is being blamed on steep increases in construction costs, which jumped an average of 50 percent nationwide since a 2004 sequencing study on the road was completed, said Clara Conner, a division engineer for the Highway Administration.

“Given limited resources and double-digit increases in construction costs, we must determine how best to continue this important project,” she said. “As part of our fiduciary responsibility, we must continue to assess and evaluate costs and determine the best course of action.”

Stephanie Dubois, the park’s acting superintendent, said the project has enough money to continue through 2009.

“Given this unprecedented rise in construction costs, however, it is essential that we continue to strategize how to proceed in future years,” she said.

In April 2004, the Park Service and the Highway Administration outlined a plan to save the deteriorating road, and Dubois said the agencies haven’t deviated from their original goal.

“The Sun Road is one of our great national treasures, and we will do everything possible to preserve this engineering marvel for the future,” she said.