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Rush Hour: Community braces for TIGER road work

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Montana Highway 64 extends west from U.S. Highway 191, toward Lone Mountain. OUTLAW PARTNERS PHOTO

Mid-May through October, construction will magnify traffic on Highway 64 

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

Commuters and local drivers can expect to churn through audiobooks and podcasts this summer.   

On Wednesday, April 19, the Montana Department of Transportation hosted a pair of virtual information sessions outlining summer roadwork on Montana Highway 64 (Lone Mountain Trail). Beginning in mid-May and stretching through the end of September, road work will slow the traffic which has become ubiquitous in Big Sky, especially during peak seasons.  

The $13.6 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Grant award also funds new Skyline Bus vehicles and supports the Big Sky Transportation District’s long-term infrastructure improvements.  

Bozeman civil engineering firm Sanderson Stewart designed the highway improvements, and Western Region Manager Danielle Scharf wrote a statement to EBS regarding the importance of this work.  

“The long-term benefits of this project to the Big Sky Community include improved safety and better traffic flow,” Scharf wrote. 

According to documents presented at the meeting, drivers should expect delays of up to 20 minutes during peak travel times. Construction will take place Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. with additional work on Saturdays as necessary. 

Numbered by location from west to east, summer work will focus on 11 main projects. COURTESY OF BIG SKY PUBLIC RELATIONS

Single-lane traffic will be necessary on occasion, but crews will prioritize two-way flow. Gravel detours will be necessary in some zones, and width restrictions may be enforced.  

Scharf emphasized that left turn lanes, to be constructed, are proven to reduce accidents by 28-48% and will improve traffic flow as cars don’t need to wait behind a turning vehicle.  

“The traffic signal being added at the MT 64/Little Coyote intersection will also be a significant improvement in terms of both safety and operations at that intersection,” she wrote. “The additional shared-use paths, tunnel and pedestrian bridge will also greatly improve the safety and accessibility of the area for pedestrians and bicyclists.” 

Main construction projects will follow this tentative timeline, presented during the meetings: 

Rough project timeline 

In mid-May, construction will begin on a pedestrian bridge over the West Fork Gallatin River on Little Coyote Road, near the Big Sky Community Park. By late May, construction will begin on a pedestrian tunnel under Highway 64 at the east end of Little Coyote Road, left-turn lanes at Big Pine Drive and Andesite Road, and a shared-use pedestrian path between Big Pine Drive and Andesite Road.  

By mid-July, crews will begin installing a traffic signal system at the east end of Little Coyote Road. Later in July, stretching through September, the intersection at U.S. Highway 191 will be updated. 

As work wraps up for the summer in late September, crews will pave most construction areas.  

Community information 

Officials are encouraging local drivers to sign up for weekly text updates by texting MT64PROJECT to 41411. 

Questions and comments can be emailed to Kristine Fife, senior account executive for Big Sky Public Relations, the firm handling project information. The MDT’s project hotline can also be reached at 406-207-4484, during regular business hours.  

Weekly construction updates will be posted on the project website.  

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