By Emily Wolfe, Explore Big Sky Managing Editor
Winter must be over, because road construction is in full swing in Gallatin Canyon.
Since March 31, contract crews from M.A. DeAtley Construction have been working 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday on U.S. Highway 191 at Greek Creek, doing rock excavation and digging to widen the road, according to Lori Ryan, the public information officer for the Montana Department of Transportation.
M.A. DeAtley is constructing turn lanes for north- and southbound traffic between mileposts 57.9 and 58.6 at the Greek Creek Campground. During work hours, 15-minute delays should be expected throughout the construction season.
During rock excavation, road and river closures up to one hour will also be put in place, with three separate hour-long delays each week. Due to the nature of the work, M.A. DeAtley Construction cannot schedule the time of these longer delays more than two days in advance.
Some regular commuters have reported waits up to 90 minutes.
As of May 5, crews were working on subexcavation and backfill of the existing highway, along with excavating the large rock outcropping just north of the campground.
The project at Greek Creek is tentatively set for completion in late June.
This is part of a larger road improvement project the state began in March 2013, between mileposts 41 and 66.1 on Highway 191 – or the Redcliff Campground south of Big Sky, and the Castle Rock Inn, near the northern end of the canyon.
“When they finish at Greek Creek, they will complete paving and clean-up for phase three, which is Karst Ranch and Castle Rock Inn,” Ryan said.
She said the majority of the work at those two locations has already been completed: At Karst (milepost 55.1-55.4), crews constructed a left turn lane for northbound traffic, and at Castle Rock (milepost 65.1-66.1), they constructed two left turn lanes for southbound traffic. The final lift of pavement will be completed during the paving of Greek Creek.
“After that they’ll come back through the whole project and chip seal in July, weather permitting,” Ryan said. “Following the chip seal they’ll stripe the project in late August and early September.”
MDOT reminds motorists to watch for work crews and equipment, as well as signs indicating reduced speed limits and detours. Posted limits are enforced until signs indicate that the work zone has ended. Fines double in work zones. For additional information visit mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/gallatinturnlanes/ or call (406) 599-8245.