Next phases to continue in spring 2023
By Gabrielle Gasser ASSOCIATE EDITOR
BIG SKY – After several hurdles caused delays in local roadwork funded by a TIGER Grant awarded to Gallatin County in 2017, project partners are celebrating progress on the large scope of infrastructural improvements as crews prepare to wrap up work for the season.
This work, intended to improve Montana Highway 64 and funded by the $10.2 million grant, includes new turn lanes, new pedestrian infrastructure and a traffic signal as well as funding for Big Sky’s public transportation system. This summer crews will complete the initial stages of the project: a new left-turn lane at the Powder Light Subdivision near Ace hardware, paid for by Lone Mountain Land Company, and utility relocations.
“We are pleased to have this project underway,” said Danielle Scharf, project manager at Sanderson Stewart, the engineering firm that is overseeing the project. “These are much-needed enhancements and will greatly benefit anyone traveling this corridor.”
After facing delays due to a lengthy bidding process, budget deficits and other challenges, the project is now moving forward according to an Aug. 1 press release from Gallatin County and the Montana Department of Transportation.
The latest round of bids, which opened in March 2022, left a multi-million-dollar shortfall between bids and available funds. Local partners moved to close the more than $3.1 million gap to move the project forward and complete the much-needed work. MDT, a partner on the project, contributed more than $2 million and Gallatin County, Madison County and the Big Sky Resort Area District each pitched in roughly $333,333.
TIGER Grant work will continue with its next phase in spring 2023, according to the press release. Future improvements will include a new traffic signal and pedestrian tunnel; upgraded wildlife and curve warning signage; shoulder modifications; and four more left-turn lanes.
According to the press release, paved multi-use pathways will also be constructed along MT 64 from Big Pine Drive to Andesite Road and along Little Coyote Road from MT 64 to the Big Sky Community Park, including a pedestrian bridge near the park. The contractor for the project intends to complete the majority of the remaining work in 2023, according to Scharf. Work may extend into 2024 with chip sealing and final pavement markings being completed last, she said.