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MDT bridge decks project progressing smoothly

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Construction underway on the West Fork bridge, located on Highway 64 near the Conoco and Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. PHOTO BY BRANDON WALKER

By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – The Montana Department of Transportation is in the midst of construction on two bridge deck reconstruction projects in Big Sky, with a third slated to begin in July. The projects’ anticipated completion dates vary, but all will be completed before winter snow blankets the ground.

MDT’s contractor, Dick Anderson Construction, began the remodel project at the end of May. Currently, crews are working to revamp bridges that cross the West Fork of the Gallatin River, located near the entrance of the Conoco Travel Shoppe on highway 64, as well as one that traverses the Middle Fork of the Gallatin River, near the Highway 64 intersection with Little Coyote Road.

“The Middle Fork structure, which is the farthest one, they are currently removing Phase 1 of the bridge deck and then once they get that removed, they will start forming up and placing the rebar and all that stuff to pour Phase 1,” said MDT project manager Craig Walker. “Then on the West Fork structure, which is down by the Conoco station, they’ve already hydro milled Phase 1, so they’re prepping to pour back Phase 1 and the pour is scheduled to be on [June 19].”

Walker said that there have been no delays to the $2 million construction project and they are progressing as planned. Each construction area currently allows for one lane of traffic to proceed through the work zone at a time and is monitored remotely by Dick Anderson Construction utilizing cameras mounted on the traffic signals. 

“So, they detect the last car and when the last car goes through the light and out the other light, the detection sees that, and the camera sees that and during the high traffic volume times they actually have someone monitoring them to change timing,” Walker said. “If we need to let one direction go longer, they can manually let that direction go longer.”

Construction underway on the Middle Fork bridge, located on Highway 64 near the intersection with Little Coyote Road. PHOTO BY BELLA BUTLER

Walker detailed that the crews assist one another at each site and can only proceed as they receive materials from their suppliers, specifically concrete. “They can only get concrete from their supplier when he’s available to get it to them,” he said.

The West Fork bridge is anticipated to be completed by the end of July, at which point crews will begin construction on a third bridge, located on U.S. highway 191 that is slated to finish in September. “It’ll be the same as the West Fork structure, [the] same process,” Walker said in regard to the work being done on the highway 191 bridge. The Middle Fork bridge will take the longest of the three, needing the most extensive repairs and will finish in November at the latest. 

Walker would like to remind travelers to not block the entrances to the Conoco or Chamber of Commerce and at the Middle Fork Bridge, to not detour in an attempt to avoid the project. “That can cause some issues later on if they continue to do it,” he said.

“Go slow through the work zone. It’s, you know, not just for our benefit but for everybody’s benefit. We don’t want anybody not to go home at the end of the day,” Walker said.

Additional MDT area project timelines and overviews

Paving Highway 191 & Adding rumble strips

  • July: A few miles at a time crews begin paving the stretch from Tepee Creek Trailhead to US Forest Service Road 986.
  • August: Crews will finish paving and place rumble strips along the corridor. All major work will be completed by the end of the month.

Rainbow Point Road turn lane

  • June: Construction began at the intersection of Highway 191 and Rainbow Point Road to add a northbound left turn lane. Crews are milling and excavating in the immediate area.
  • Late June & early July: Crews pave the area and stripe, or paint, the road. Construction on the turn lane anticipated to finish.  

Bridges over Gallatin River & Specimen Creek

  • June: Crews finish bridge repairs over Specimen Creek. A concrete surface is laid down on the Gallatin River bridge and takes at least 14 days to cure on each side of the bridge.
  • July: Work on the Gallatin River bridge anticipated to be completed. 

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