Good news for Western Montana’s Most Frustrating Highway Project
For months drivers through the busy Seeley Lake corridor have been dealing with dust, dirt roads, and delays.
And that's left many wondering what will happen this winter with a project that seemingly is months away from completion. Will the chaos continue as the snow starts to fly?
Well, the good news is contractors will be making the road "winter-ready", starting this week. The bad news is, that means more construction next summer.
Reconstruction of Highway 83 around Salmon Lake, which is south of Seeley, has actually been underway for the past couple of years. It started with some tree removal and extensive testing of the cliffs above the road.
And going into the main project it seemed apparent the construction was going to be a real pain for not just Seeley-Swan residents, but the tens of thousands of people who travel to Seeley for summer fun. Even with mitigation measures, it has been tough, and rough, as the road is completely rebuilt. Not only has traffic been delayed, but it's also meant some problems in emergencies and sent a constant dust cloud across the lake all summer.
This month, with winter bearing down, residents have been asking me if the construction will be finished anytime soon.
Well, the answer is no, but some steps are being taken to help
A spokesman for the Montana Department of Transportation says crews are scheduled to start laying down some paving through the construction zone, weather permitting over the next couple of weeks. That will require some single-lane, two-way traffic with signals and flaggers. But it means the road will be ready for winter driving with an asphalt surface.
Construction will have to be finished next year
MDT says the project was delayed when some "survey discrepancies" early in the construction required some last-minute design changes. The agency and its contractors worked to fix those differences, while still allowing construction to proceed. That design is done and being reviewed now, and the finishing sections will be finished next year, with a target date for completion by July 4th weekend of 2024.
Construction hours will remain Mondays through Saturdays, 7 am to 7 pm.