At Glacier High School, a road sign leading to nowhere will soon have a purpose.
Owing to a partnership with Flathead Valley Community College and a $22,500 grant from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, School District 5 can now construct a third access point to the high school to alleviate traffic congestion and potential safety concerns.
The road will connect Reserve Loop to the eastern parking lot and to the school’s sports fields, though it’s considered temporary. Eventually a permanent road will connect the eastern and western accesses, allowing for through traffic on all sides of the school.
There are currently two points of access to and from the facility, at the north side off of West Reserve Drive and the west side off of Stillwater Drive. But, at first glance, it appears there’s a third, eastern access, with a road sign reading, “Wolfpack Way.”
All three accesses were originally planned for the school, which was completed in 2007. But when bids came in too high for the eastern road, construction was delayed, leaving the school with a sign to a road that doesn’t exist.
“It was one of the parts not required by the city, so it was phased out because of
costs,” District 5 Superintendent Darlene Schottle said, adding that bids have gone down since.
FVCC’s heavy equipment operator program will do the construction free of cost. But the district must pay for material, fuel and paving the road. Bill Roope, director of career and technical education at FVCC, said the school doesn’t have a paving machine.
Roope said FVCC has already been working on drainage, parking lots and sports fields at the school. It will begin road construction at the start of school and likely be finished within a month, he said.
A contractor will then pave the road. Along with the $22,500 from the DNRC, the district has $46,000 in its transportation fund that could go toward paving and materials. The DNRC owns property bordering the road’s right-of-way.
Roope said FVCC performs work for nonprofits and government agencies if full funding isn’t available.
“We do things beyond the scope of what funding is there to support,” Roope said. “It is actually job experience ran through the class. The students are getting experience operating equipment in a real work environment. It’s a big plus for them.”
Glacier High School, as both a busy Class AA school and a regional events center, invites a lot of traffic. But with only two access points, Schottle said the school has experienced traffic problems. The West Reserve Drive turnoff is only accessible to eastbound traffic.
There haven’t been any safety issues, Schottle said, but in the event of a fire, the eastern access point – closest to U.S. Highway 93 coming from Kalispell – should cut down on emergency response time.
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