Drivers along the south end of the U.S. Highway 93 Alternate Route will notice heavy equipment working in the area beginning Aug. 21 as the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) takes its first step toward widening that end of the bypass.
MDT contractor Tetra Tech will be taking soil samples along the bypass and at the Airport Road and Siderius intersections. The soil samples will help engineers determine how solid the ground is in those areas and how that will play into the design of the widened, four-lane highway.
While the north end of the bypass — opened in 2016 — is four lanes wide with interstate-style on and off ramps, the south end is a two-lane road with roundabouts. That section was built years earlier, and officials said that widening it has always been the plan once the funding was in place.
MDT is planning to rebuild the Foys Lake Road intersection starting in 2020.
“We know our community is eager to learn more about the future of the Kalispell Bypass,” MDT Acting Missoula District Administrator, Bob Vosen, said in a statement. “That’s why we’re letting folks know that equipment will be out to begin this process. This is the very first of many, many steps that will allow us to make the best researched decision as to the intersections at Airport and Siderius Roads with the Bypass and what those intersections will look like.”
Officials said commuters would experience limited disruptions during the soil sampling. Speeds in the work area will be reduced to 35 miles per hour.
In addition to soil samples, MDT is gathering traffic data about the south end of the bypass. Vosen said the agency would also be taking public input in the coming months.
“Flathead residents and travelers are eager to know the future of the bypass and we really want everyone to engage with us on this project,” Vosen said. “The best way for folks to learn more is by reaching out to our public involvement firm, Big Sky Public Relations.”
The public is welcomed and encouraged to sign up for updates by emailing a request to Katie Klietz, project communications manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the project hotline at (406) 207-4484.