News & Features

MDT Prepares for Busy Construction Season in Northwest Montana

A breakdown of some of the biggest upcoming road projects in the region

Summer means a lot of things in Northwest Montana: barbeques, warm days on the lake and hikes in Glacier National Park. Summer also means the beginning of road construction season and the Montana Department of Transportation will be keeping busy this year with a number of projects in this part of the state.

Ed Toavs, MDT’s Missoula district administrator, said planning what road projects to tackle during any given summer can be tough, especially as the number of drivers on Montana’s roads continues to increase.

“You’ve got to consider the timing of these projects to ensure that they will have the least amount of impact on people,” he said.

While some projects are small – a slope stabilization effort near West Glacier and a new traffic light on Highway 35 – others will be major, multi-year efforts, including a new bridge on U.S. Highway 2 in Hungry Horse. The Beacon caught up with Toavs to talk about some of the upcoming road projects.

Road Construction Projects in Northwest Montana. Map by Steve Larson.

1. Columbia Falls – Highway 2

Estimated Start: Late Summer

MDT will rebuild the curb and sidewalks along U.S. Highway 2 through Columbia Falls to ensure they comply with the American With Disabilities Act. The project will also upgrade the road surface from the west side of Columbia Falls to the Flathead River bridge. The project is expected to cost nearly $4 million.

2. Hungry Horse Bridge – Highway 2

Estimated Start: Spring

One of the biggest road projects in the state will be the construction of a new bridge over the South Fork Flathead River. The original bridge will remain open until 2018 while a new one is constructed alongside it. Because of that, Toavs said the impacts to drivers would be limited, at least this year. In 2018, during the second phase of the project, MDT will realign the highway on either side of the bridge. The project is expected to cost $20 million.

3. West Glacier – Highway 2

Estimated Start: Late Summer

MDT crews will be fixing the embankment along a 200-foot section of U.S. Highway 2 between West Glacier and Essex.

4. Evergreen – Highway 35

Estimated Start: Fall

MDT will be realigning the approaches of Montana Highway 35 and Helena Flats Road, as well as installing a new traffic light to make the intersection safer. The project is expected to cost $1 million.

5. Somers – Highway 82

Estimated Start: Spring

Four miles of Montana Highway 82 near Somers will be repaved. While the project will result in some delays, Toavs said they are optimistic it will be done before the busy summer tourist season.

6. Polson – Highway 93

Estimated Start: Early Fall

New turning lanes will be installed on U.S. Highway 93 north of Polson near the intersection of Flathead View Drive. Toavs said there have been a number of collisions at the site and the new turning lanes will increase safety.

7. Libby – East Balsam Street

Estimated Start: Summer

New sidewalks will be installed on Balsam Street in Libby between Nevada Avenue and Main Avenue. Toavs said the sidewalks would improve mobility within the community.

8. Troy – US Highway 93

Estimated Start: Fall

Retaining walls along U.S. Highway 2 between Troy and the Idaho border will be rebuilt.

9. Kiowa Jct. – Highway 89

Estimated Start: Spring

A section of Highway 89 between Browning and Kiowa Jct. (where Highway 49 from East Glacier Park comes in) will be completely rebuilt and realigned in some areas.