The Flathead County Road and Bridge Department is preparing to repair and reopen the Echo Lake causeway. The road has been closed since summer due to flooding.
For the second time in as many years, a high snowpack and a wet spring led to Echo Lake, just east of Bigfork, flooding for most of the summer. The flooding has been a nuisance for those who live around the lake and say their lakefront property has been damaged by water and waves. Last year, a no-wake zone was implemented by Flathead County, but this year no such rule was put in place.
Because of lower floodwaters and more waves, Flathead County Public Works Director Dave Prunty said there appears to be more damage to the causeway this year. Last year, the floodwaters did not recede until December.
As of last week, the water was receding at a rate of a half-inch to 1.5 inches a day. How much repairs will cost is unknown.
“We’re not sure what we’ll be getting into until we see it,” Prunty said.
Until recently, the causeway was being used as a fishing platform for locals rather than a way to get from point A to point B. Prunty said the county department plans on replacing the road’s sub base gravel, some pavement and reflective posts.
County officials and locals alike have raised concerns that Echo Lake’s flooding could become an annual event. Before 2011, the last time Echo Lake flooded was 1997.
“It all depends on what Mother Nature does, be it a huge snowpack or a lot of spring rain,” Prunty said.
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