Construction of Kalispell Bypass Hits High Gear

LHC crews making progress on final 4.5 miles of road, bridge construction

By Dillon Tabish
Construction continues along the Kalispell Bypass on March 18, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Crews installed bridge beams for the overpass above Old Reserve Drive last week as construction hits high gear for the final phase of the U.S. 93 Alternate Route.

Over the last several months, crews with LHC have worked through rain and snow, moving over 750,000 yards of dirt and constructing the remaining 4.5 miles of bypass, from West Reserve Drive near Glacier High School to Foys Lake Road.

With spring’s beneficial weather, LHC crews are hitting their stride and pushing for completion by the end of November.

“Obviously a lot can happen between now and then but everybody is working toward that goal,” said Don Brummel, project manager for LHC, a local contracting company owned by Jeff Claridge.

“The Claridges know how important this is to the community, and we’re making good progress. All of these folks in the field, it’s a credit to what they’ve done and their hard work. They’ve been up to their ankles in mud and snow. The conditions they’ve worked through to keep this on schedule is remarkable.”

Last week 98-ton beams were brought in and installed at the overpass above Old Reserve Drive. Sletten Construction, the project’s bridge contractor, trucked in 10 113-foot-long beams from Spokane.

A total of 500,000 tons of material such as concrete is being imported for the bypass project.

The existing two-lane bypass at Foys Lake Road and the Ashley Creek area is being widened to four lanes and bridge widening is continuing for an overpass above U.S. Highway 2.

From Foys Lake Road, the entire north side of the bypass will be four lanes, following Interstate highway standards. The bridge at U.S. Highway 2 will be one of five new overpasses. Nearly five miles of new road will stretch toward Old Reserve Drive and connect with the existing phase that was completed two years ago.

Sidewalks will be built along the bypass with a trailhead at Three Mile Drive. A block sound wall will be installed from Three Mile to Four Mile Drive, where the bypass will include on and off ramps. Traffic signals are being set up at the new Four Mile Drive and Stillwater Road intersections as heavy truck traffic picks up. Bridge embankment work and pavement section construction will be taking place and motorists should watch for truck traffic and expect delays.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from everyone,” Brummel said. “We had a very good plan going into this.”

Over $100 million has already been poured into the project, and the final contract, awarded to LHC at nearly $34 million, is the largest single contract in the state’s history.

Public meetings on the progress of the bypass take place every Tuesday, beginning at 5 p.m., in the Glacier High School Conference Room at 375 Wolfpack Way. For more information, visit mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/kalispellbypass.