Montana Department of Transportation to Hold Open House Sessions on Ice Box Canyon Improvement Project

The public is invited to learn more about the project and provide comment at an in-person and virtual open house on Aug. 23 and 24

By Denali Sagner
Montana Highway 35 along the east shore of Flathead Lake on Sept. 5, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and its consultant WGM Group will host two open house events to share the latest preliminary design plans for the reconstruction of Montana Highway 35 in Bigfork, from just south of the intersection with Peaceful Drive at Reference Post 32.1, extending north through Ice Box Canyon to just north of Chapman Hill Road at Reference Post 33.3.

“This reconstruction project is important to the Bigfork community, offers many benefits for the area, and will establish a precedent for other Highway 35 projects in Bigfork going forward,” MDT Missoula District Administrator Bob Vosen said in a press release. “Our team is looking forward to sharing the planned improvements with the community at the upcoming open houses and answering any questions they may have.”

The project will reconstruct the road to provide a 12-foot travel lane in each direction, a center left-turn lane in the area between Peaceful Drive and approximately the south end of Ice Box Canyon, a raised median barrier through the canyon and a left-turn deceleration lane northbound at Chapman Hill Road. The roadway reconstruction will also include roadway shoulder, horizontal curve, clear zone and drainage improvements. Roadside slopes and ditches will be revised to improve safety, and drainage will be improved through the installation of curbs and gutters. A 10-foot-wide shared used path will be included for a portion of the project length. 

Map of the proposed Ice Box Canyon improvement project. Courtesy of the Montana Department of Transportation.

MDT will host an in-person open house on Wednesday, Aug. 23 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the community room at Bigfork High School, 600 Commerce Street. No formal presentation will be made during the event, and attendees are welcome to drop by at any time. 

There will also be a virtual open house on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 12 to 1 p.m. Registration for the Zoom open house can be found here. The event will involve a brief presentation followed by a question-and-answer session. 

The same content will be provided during both sessions. 

“We strongly encourage residents to attend one of the open houses to learn more about the project, which includes plans for a proposed share-used path,” Trevor Iman, project design manager from WGM Group, said. “The shared-used path is a popular feature of the project, and we have received feedback that it should be extended to include the full length of the roadway project. This will require public support and a commitment from the county to maintain the extended path.”

Those who cannot attend either event can ask questions and provide comments by contacting Sloane Stinson at [email protected] or by calling the project hotline at 406-207-4484, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information about the Ice Box Canyon project, visit www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/iceboxcanyon/.