Kalispell Bypass Resumes Development on North End

By Beacon Staff

The bypass is back on track.

One of the final four phases of the U.S. Highway 93 Alternate Route around Kalispell has garnered sufficient funding and construction could begin in August, according to a state transportation administrator.

The next stage of development will occur along West Reserve Drive and Reserve Loop near Glacier High School. A new four-lane road will wind south from the U.S. 93 intersection behind Holiday Inn Express and the site of the future Cabela’s Outpost retail store and connect to Reserve Loop. West Reserve Drive will be renamed Old Reserve Drive, according to city staff, and will feature a new intersection and cul-de-sac that stops shy of the highway.

“That will be a good improvement and just getting that connection built into Reserve Loop will be really nice,” said Ed Toavs, the district administrator with the Montana Department of Transportation.

Toavs said the state will accept construction bids starting in late May and a contractor will be selected by July. At that point, there will be a clearer timeframe for development, he said, but this section of the project could be completed by July 2014.

“It’s a good project to get in the bag,” Toavs said.

The alternate route was in the works for decades before finally breaking ground on the southern portion in 2009. The 7.6-mile project reached its halfway point last year, but development screeched to a halt when funding evaporated.

Toavs said money recently arose from a variety of sources, including federal grants and other state projects finishing under budget. The state’s Transportation Commission last month approved roughly $8 million to go toward the northernmost phase along West Reserve Drive. It is one of four remaining unfinished segments that are projected to cost at least $35 million total, Toavs said.

Members of Kalispell’s city council cheered the announcement at a meeting on Monday.

Though it appears to be in its final stretch, the bypass still faces a few hurdles. Project designs are completed and shovel-ready, but funding is an ongoing challenge. The state also needs the final right-of-way acquisitions, which is down to three pieces of private property along the northern route. The state has acquired 130 parcels for the bypass, Toavs said.

“We definitely need all three of those. They are pretty significant,” Toavs said. “We’re trying to work through those. Hopefully in the future we’ll get them nailed down.”

The final stretch of road will travel south toward U.S. Highway 2, which is where the southern half of the bypass currently stops. The route will include interchanges at Three Mile Drive and Four Mile Drive, which is scheduled to be developed west of Kidsports Complex within the year, according to city staff.

Toavs did not give a timeframe for the entire bypass to be completed, and instead described this latest project as another step forward.

“Now that we’re getting it built, we’ll turn our attention to other spots and just keep chugging along,” he said.

For more information on the U.S. 93 Alternate Route, visit here.

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