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Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406 888-7906
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Road improvements on the 50-mile historic Going-to-the-Sun Road will continue this summer with work that focuses on rehabilitation of the west side tunnel portal and locations immediately east and west of Logan Pass. On April 4, 2006, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded a $2.5 million contract to Sandry Construction Company of Bigfork / Kalispell for this year’s Sun Road work (Phase V).
The 2006 road improvements and rehabilitation include construction of a new retaining wall section east of Logan Pass where steep eroded slopes have undermined the road edge. In addition, the contract includes rock bolting, drainage improvements, slope stabilization, and guardwall and retaining wall reconstruction and rehabilitation. Repair of recent road damage below the east side tunnel will also be added to this contract as a contract modification where the outer lane was undercut in Sept. 2005 as a result of heavy rains.
Work on Phase V will commence this spring and depending on weather, all work is to be completed by late fall 2006. The contract will be administered by the FHWA, Western Federal Lands Division, based in Vancouver, WA, and will be supervised locally by FHWA project engineers.
After years of planning and public involvement, the National Historic Landmark Going-to-the-Sun (Sun) Road is receiving much needed attention and rehabilitation. Planning, repair and rehabilitation of the Sun Road has been underway since 1988; however, comprehensive treatment of the alpine section starts in 2006 following heightened awareness of the road’s condition.
Beginning with this 2006 one-year contract, criteria and guidelines go into effect that were specified in the National Park Service (NPS) Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Plan. The Record of Decision (ROD) was signed on November 5, 2003, by then NPS Intermountain Regional Director Steven P. Martin.
As a result of that extensive planning and public involvement, the NPS and its partner, the FHWA Western Federal Lands Division, based in Vancouver, WA, made a commitment to maintain ‘shared use’ of the Sun Road throughout the rehabilitation process. As a result, during the peak visitor season (mid-June – mid-Sept.) there will only be temporary delays.
Mid-June – mid-Sept. 2006, the following schedule will be in effect during the peak season:
-Weather and road conditions permitting, the entire 50–mile Sun Road will be open for two-way motorized traffic.
-Visitors may expect a maximum of 30–minute delays for a one–way trip across the Sun Road during peak hours (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
-During non-peak hours, (8 – 10 a.m. and 3 – 8 p.m.) travelers may experience up to 1–hour delays for a one-way trip across the Sun Road.
-Definitive nighttime delays are unknown at this time; however, delays may occur between 8 p.m. – 8 a.m.
Mid-Sept. 2006 – mid-June 2007, the following schedule will be in effect during the shoulder and winter seasons:
-Portions of the upper Sun Road may not be accessible for motorized vehicle use as contractors accelerate rehabilitation roadwork. -Except when closed to motorized traffic by weather conditions, Logan Pass will be accessible for vehicles from at least one side.
-Non-motorized public access will oftentimes be allowed on segments of the Sun Road that are not open for motorized vehicle traffic.
In 2007 and beyond, NPS managers at Glacier will implement a variety of new visitor services in coordination with the long-range Sun Road rehabilitation. These options and opportunities will include a Sun Road shuttle system and transit support facilities, interpretive wayside exhibits along the Sun Road and other technological improvements and advancements such as real-time information on traffic conditions along the Sun Road.
These new services will 1) provide a broader, more user-friendly park experience for visitors during the ongoing road improvements and in the future, 2) lessen the impact of the Sun Road rehabilitation project on the cultural and natural environment and surrounding gateway communities, and 3) preserve for future generations the priceless resource and engineering marvel that is the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Editor’s Note: A fact sheet on 2006 Going-to-the-Sun Road information is available at http://www.nps.gov/glac/sunroad/GTSR%202006%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
The Record of Decision is available on the park’s web site at http://www.nps.gov/glac/pdf/gttsr-rod03.pdf