Work on the southern segment of the U.S. Highway 93 alternate route, also known as the Kalispell bypass, is on pace to be completed by late fall, despite delays from rainy weather in May and June on some sections.
According to Gary Landsaw, the bypass project manager for Ames Construction, his company’s section running from north of Airport Road to U.S. Highway 2 has a tentative completion date of Oct. 25, with final chip sealing scheduled for next summer.
Current progress on this piece of the project includes the construction of the Ashley Creek stabilizing walls and bridge, with expected completion in October. The Foys Lake Road roundabout is expected to be finished in September, and crews are working on installing a pedestrian tunnel near Sunnyside Drive.
Landsaw also said construction of a 3,000-foot long noise wall along the south end of the project will begin later this month and should be done by September. Work on the Ashley Creek pedestrian bridge will start in late July or early August and is slated to be finished by late August.
Grade excavation south of Foys Lake Road is in progress with completion scheduled for late July, Landsaw said.
Appleway Drive and Rails to Trails will remain closed until construction is complete, but there is access for Appleway via Meridian Road and a temporary parking area for Rails to Trails off U.S. Highway 2 near Meridian Road.
For those driving on Foys Lake Road, there is a detour route in place with traffic flagging to control heavy equipment crossing this detour. Drivers can expect slower speed limits and potentially minor delays.
Valley View Drive will have a gravel road surface for the duration of the bypass construction, with slower speeds and crews working along the roadway.
The west end of Ashley Lane will remain closed until the project’s completion, and Sunnyside Drive has a permanent closure at the west end. Travelers wishing to access Valley View Drive from Sunnyside Drive must use a different route.
The Ames section of the project will also include drainage systems, new channel construction for Spring Creek, detention ponds, a bike path and landscaping.
According Ed Toavs of the Montana Department of Transportation, Ames may need to run double shifts on certain pieces of its project to catch up after last month’s wet weather stalled some progress.
“That job is doing pretty well, all things considered with the rain in May and June,” Toavs said.
LHC Inc. is expected to finish their milling and excavation and work near the bypass connection with U.S. Highway 2 some time in October, Toavs said.
Further south, from Airport Road to U.S. Highway 93, Knife River crews have nearly completed the bulk of its project, according to General Manager Alrick Hale.
“The project is well under way,” Hale said. “Most of the excavation is complete and most of the base gravels are in place.”
The schedule for the Knife River section of the project will be determined by the work on the bridge at Ashley Creek, Hale said. The bridge’s foundation needed a 60-day settling period before any more work could begin, he said.
Crews are currently installing the bridge’s piling and the concrete pier caps, Toavs said.
Construction near Airport and Cemetery roads will begin in the next month, during which crews will tear up asphalt on Airport Road and put in a detour. There will also be a roundabout built at Airport Road and Cemetery Road.
Crews will begin pouring concrete at the Siderius Commons roundabout on the southern end of the bypass, Hale said, and he expects it to be finished soon.
Knife River’s portion of the project should be completed by late fall, Hale said.
“We had a good winter, the weather cooperated well,” Hale said.
The northern segment of the U.S. 93 alternate route, which will run north from U.S. Highway 2 and reconnect with U.S. Highway 93 at West Reserve Drive, has not yet been bid out. Efforts are underway to purchase right-of-ways along the northern segment, according to officials from the Montana Department of Transportation.
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