MDT Hosts Open House to Gather Feedback About Bypass Intersection

The Montana Department of Transportation will share design concepts for the southern end of the Kalispell Bypass

By Micah Drew
The Kalispell Bypass on June 30, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

An intersection along the southern end of the Kalispell Bypass has been identified by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) as intersections in need of redesign, and the department is hosting two open-house events this week to educate the public and hear feedback.

“The Kalispell Bypass is an important thoroughfare for our community,” said Bob Vosen, MDT District 1 administrator, in a press release. “This traffic analysis is another step towards making the Bypass as efficient and safe as possible. With that in mind, we hope to discuss some of our findings and gather feedback during the meetings.”

The study of the U.S. Highway 93 and Basecamp Drive intersections began in 2019. The study, conducted by KLJ Engineering, identified a traffic congestion issue at on the southern end of the Kalispell Bypass.  A bottleneck traffic issue stemming from the Highway 93 intersection was having a ripple effect on the Basecamp Drive intersection configuration, prompting further study of potential design changes.

The Kalispell Bypass was first identified as a potential alternate route from Somers to Whitefish in the early 1990s, with construction beginning in 2007. The completed route opened to traffic in 2016, but intermittent construction has taken place since, most recently to reconfigure the Foys Lake Road interchange, which is expected to be completed this year.

The intersection with Basecamp Drive is currently a two-lane roundabout, but MDT is looking at alternative arrangements that will increase traffic volumes and provide more continuity as the southern section of the Bypass is converted to a four-lane roadway.

Three alternative intersection options were previously identified in a 2019 study. All three options included elevating Basecamp Drive into an overpass, rebuilding 1/3 mile of the Bypass to add a median and concrete barriers and included a proposed pedestrian path.

The original alternative included a compact quad, which will replace the roundabout with right-on, right-off ramps on the northwest and southeast corners of the intersection, a second largely identical configuration that included a longer eastbound exit ramp, and a third option that would have widened the Bypass to five lanes, adding long on- and off- ramps for east bound traffic and a loop for westbound traffic. These alternatives are no longer in consideration after the U.S. 93 intersection was identified as a major contributor to traffic along the southern end of the Bypass.

At the open house events, MDT will be discussing more results from the study of the Bypass intersections and will present new alternatives for the intersection of U.S. 93 and the Kalispell Bypass.

On Feb. 22, a virtual event will be held on Zoom from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Attendees can expect a short presentation followed by a question-and-answer session and the opportunity to provide comments. To register for the zoom event visit bitly.com/kalispellbypass.

MDT will host the in-person public meeting at the Hampton Inn Kalispell, at 1140 U.S. Highway 2 on Feb. 23 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., with attendees encouraged to drop by at any time.

Those who cannot attend the event can still provide comments by contacting Becca MacLean at Becca@bigskypublicrelations.com or by calling the project hotline at 406-207-4484, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the study, visit https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/kalispellbypass/.

This story has been updated

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