The existing roundabout at the intersection of Foys Lake Road and the Kalispell Bypass will soon be removed and replaced with an overpass and two separate roundabouts, with construction beginning tentatively on March 1, according to Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) officials.
MDT Missoula District Administrator Bob Vosen says the interchange will look similar to the U.S. Highway 2 and Kalispell Bypass interchange, which has an overpass and traffic signals instead of roundabouts.
Officials chose a double teardrop-shaped roundabout design on Foys Lake Road because the intersection has five connecting streets, making a traffic signal less conducive.
“Anytime you have an intersection with five legs, they are universally known as malfunction junctions,” Vosen said. “It’s difficult to get five-legged intersections with signals to work.”
Construction will begin tentatively on March 1, depending on the weather. Workers will start replacing the existing roundabout with a four-lane overpass that will carry bypass traffic running north and south. Traffic will not be affected on the bypass to start, Vosen said. Crews will also relocate the shared-use path and sidewalk and build the retaining walls and northbound on and off ramps.
Crews will then begin building the Foys Lake Road roundabouts, with traffic diverted to the east side. Travelers should expect traffic delays this summer.
Construction will run through November, and crews will finish chip sealing and final striping in spring of 2022.
Officials chose an overpass and double roundabout design to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion for the 23,000 vehicles that travel through the intersection every day.
LHC Construction, Inc. and KLJ, Inc. were awarded a $14.7 million bid for the project in June of 2020, most of which is funded with a $12.7 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.
MDT is hosting two virtual public open houses on Thursday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. to discuss the traffic control details for the construction.
“We want to encourage people to come and ask questions,” Vosen said.
For more information about the project and to register for the open houses, visit www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/kalispellbypass. People who would like regular updates or cannot attend the open house can provide feedback by contacting Becca MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the project hotline at (406) 207-4484 during business hours.
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