The Libby County Commissioners heard from representatives of the Montana Department of Transportation about ongoing and planned road projects around the county at their March 6 regular meeting.
Employees from the MDOT Missoula District enumerated the stages of about a dozen different MDOT projects that are expected to take place on Highways 56, 2 and 37 within the next few years, varying from more extensive projects such as the Swamp Creek rebuild on Highway 2 to signage on Parmenter Creek Road.
Donny Pfeiffer with the MDOT Missoula District said that most of the structure work on the Highway 2 Swamp Creek project si completed. However, the detour around the bridge will likely remain in place for the majority of the year.
In order to continue that work, crews have to wait for that section to dry out a little bit, Pfeiffer said.
“We have to get the right soil conditions to build the lightweight fill in and around the bridge structure,” he said.
The contractor is off to a good start, and may be able to start making cuts as early as June, he said.
He told the commissioners that those driving that section of Highway 2 should expect to still be driving on gravel a lot this construction season.
There will also be delays, but he said he expected they won’t be too bad since the sections won’t be long. At the moment, MDOT is probably a little bit ahead of where they originally thought they would be.
“I think by hunting season, hopefully we see it paved out,” he said.
MDOT plans a public information effort to keep the public aware of times they can anticipate delays due to the Swamp Creek project, Pfeiffer said. Additionally, they will be working to educate the public on the history of that section of Highway 2.
On the Highway 2 bridges over the Kootenai River west of Troy, Nunnallee said that MDOT will be working on a rehab project. Though it is expected for the project to be let for bid in 2019, he said construction may not begin until 2020.
Nunnallee said that the work would be rehab, including sandblasting and rust repair to the bridge structure.
On Pipe Creek near mile 2.9, MDOT will do shoulder widening, slope flattening and signage at the curve in response to crash clusters that identified safety issues at the curve.
No date has been identified for that project, but based on other safety projects, he told the commissioners it would likely be about two years out.
Nunnallee said the work on Parmenter Creek Road is part of a larger safety project with most sites in Kalispell. Nunnallee said that the work there would involve signage and lane delineation.
At their Feb. 20 meeting, the commissioners signed the agreement with MDOT to take over maintenance once the work is completed on Parmenter.
On Highway 56 around mile 27, MDOT will be doing guardrail work, including higher visibility panels. Nunnallee said they expect that work to take place this summer.
Along all of Highway 37 from Libby to Eureka, MDOT will be doing bridge preservation involving deckwork and overlays, he said. That project is expected to extend beyond 2023.
Around mile 11 on Highway 37, MDOT will be doing guardrail work between the road and the Kootenai River, he said. However no date has been set for that project.
Nunnallee also identified a crossing signal and surfacer project with no projected start date on 5th Street Extension.
County commissioner Mark Peck said that the crossing has been a huge safety concern.
On Highway 2 going toward Kalispell, MDOT has identified another safety project around mile 39, where they plan to widen the shoulder, flatten the slope and install rumble strips. There is no projected start date for that project yet, Nunnallee said.