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Entries in MDT (5)


Skalkaho could re-open by Labor Day

This washout closed the road last spring- MDT photo(HAMILTON)- Crews are busy repairing the huge washout that has kept the popular Skalkaho Highway closed since last spring. 

And if the weather holds, the Montana Department of Transportation is hoping to have the route re-opened in time for the Labor Day Weekend. 

MDT had to close the road when last spring's wet weather created a slide that wiped out the road about 2-and-a-half miles from Skalkaho Falls just beyond Milepost 18. The closure impacted a 4-mile stretch of the road, preventing through traffic between the Bitterroot and Flint River Valleys. 

Last week, crews began clearing some of the downed trees, and MDT Project Engineer Ed Toavs (tayvs) says the contractors is already starting to move dirt for the permanent repairs this week. Toavs says if the schedule and weather holds up the road could be re-opened by the end of the month. 

That means the road would be available for hunters and other recreational traffic through the normal fall season. 


Company looks at Northwest Montana routes for megaloads

(HELENA)- State officials are discussing routes for new megaloads moving through Northwest Montana, but say no permits have actually been filed. 

Unlike most of the shipments headed through to Alberta the past 3-years, these loads are bound for the Calumet refinery in Great Falls. However, making arrangements for the three, 1-point-6 million pound loads to travel through Idaho has proven to be problematic. 

The problems have been centered on getting the big loads across Interstate 90 in Northern Idaho, with shipper Mammoet USA South now looking at other possible routes into Montana. 

Motor Carrier Services Division Administrator Duane Williams says MDT has been discussing alternative routes to the freeway with Mammoet. 

One has been having the loads come through Sandpoint and Bonner in Northern Idaho, following Highway 200 into Sanders County. The trucks would then turn north at the Bull River and travel north to U.S. 2, where they would turn east to Kalispell. From there the loads would have to either transit Marias Pass, or run south down the Swan Valley and then east to Great Falls again on Highway 200. 

Williams says that's just one of several routes the company is exploring, including other options entering Montana from the south. He says if Mammoet can resolve the questions on I-90 in Idaho, these loads would have no trouble just staying on the freeway in Montana. 

The loads are expected to move across the state sometime this spring. 


MDT says it's still committed to Kalispell Bypass

(KALISPELL)- Montana's transportation commissioners are offering reassurances that the state is still planning to finish the second half of the Kalispell Bypass. 

But at a meeting Thursday they admitted it's taking a while to find the millions of dollars to complete the highway section. 

The Daily Interlake reports a contingent of Kalispell government and business leaders trekked to the Transportation Commission meeting to urge the state to press ahead with finishing the north half of the bypass, which remains incomplete. The delegation said the highway is critical to city's future development, economic growth and safety. 

But commissioners said finding the remaining $33-million for the job is difficult, especially given the backlog of other highway projects in the Flathead and elsewhere around the state. MDT administrators say they are planning to do some work around the Three Mile Drive section as soon as next spring. 


Yellowstone road re-opened after mudslide, cleanup underway

Park County photo(GARDINER)- Crews are cleaning up a big mudslide that closed Highway 89 north of Gardiner during Wednesday's severe storms.

The road, which is the only link between Yellowstone Park's northern entrance and Livingston, was covered in water and mud when heavy rains moved through the upper valley. Initial reports indicated the road was covered by mud up to 8-feet deep. MDT closed the road to all traffic, but managed to get the highway partially re-opened overnight. 

This morning the cleanup is in full swing. MDT says motorists should be watching for equipment and flaggers and be ready to reduce speed in the area.


State hopes additive can solve sheep problem near Thompson Falls

Mag chloride has brought sheep right onto highway for past several winters- KPAX TV photo(THOMPSON FALLS)- Highway and wildlife managers are hoping a new additive, and possibly a speed limit change will be enough to stop the number of accidents involving bighorn sheep in the Lower Clark Fork Valley.

Montana Department of Transportation and Fish, Wildlife and Parks are hoping to find out this winter if a new product used to de-ice the roads can help from attracting the sheep to the highway. 

Repeatedly over the years, and again this past summer, people have collided with the sheep when they come down on the highway from the cliffs above the river. MDT has erected warning signs, and the adjacent railroad tracks are fenced off. But the sheep are drawn to the pavement like moths to a flame, especially in the winter, when highway crews apply magnesium chloride to the pavement as a deicer. 

This winter, MDT is trying something different, using a product called "Game Away" as an additive to a more traditional salt/sand solution in hopes that it won't attract the sheep to the salty taste of mag chloride. It's effectiveness will be studied all winter in three test periods.

In addition, Sanders County leaders have agreed to look at a speed study to see if that might also help reduce the number of serious collisions between sheep and cars. 

In the meantime, FWP biologist Bruce Sterling says the best thing for people to do is slow down and drive defensively, especially on the blind corners and curves. He says even if the additive works, there's still potential for the sheep to be down along the highway, especially where the cliff face is close to the road.