U.S. Highway 93 bypass to get $3 million

By Beacon Staff

Democratic Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus recently allocated $16 million in federal funding for transportation, housing and economic development projects in Montana.

Among those projects is the U.S. Highway 93 bypass in Kalispell. The senators reserved $3 million for the bypass.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill in early July, with the Montana senators’ requests. Though it must pass several more hurdles before the funding becomes final, Baucus and Tester praised the approval as a vital first step.

“All of these projects are smart investments in our future because they help build and improve critical infrastructure across Montana,” Tester said in a statement.

The proposed four-lane bypass would start south of Kalispell near Gardner’s R.V. and Trailer Center, head northwest and follow along the abandoned Burlington Northern Railway line. Curving northward around the outskirts of city, the bypass would eventually meet back up with Highway 93 at West Reserve Drive. The goal is to relieve congestion and traffic noise levels through the heart of Kalispell.

Last year the first section of the bypass was completed with the 1.2-mile Reserve Loop north of Kalispell. The next step is completing a section near Appleway Drive around U.S. Highway 2. The total bypass bill is estimated at $76 million.

The appropriations bill also distributes money to three projects in Billings: $5 million to expand Shiloh Road, $325,000 for the Big Sky Economic Development Corporation and $500,000 to help the city safely demolish and clean up the site of the former Naval Reserve Center.

The rest of the money is divided into $3 million to pave a section of Highway 323 in eastern Montana; $1 million for the Great Falls Development Authority; $750,000 for surplus houses on Rocky Boy Indian Reservation; $1 million for a science museum in Helena; $1 million to help remodel a commercial building in a new affordable housing neighborhood in Missoula and $520,000 for the state Department of Commerce to boost economic development in rural Montana.