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Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Crews at Glacier National Park are confidently moving towards an anticipated July 1st opening of the entire Going-to-the Sun Road (Sun Road), weather permitting, park officials announce. The projection for the entire road opening occurs as final preparations are underway to complete / stabilize storm damage repairs east of Logan Pass sufficient enough to allow two-way public vehicle access across the alpine section of road. Recently discovered storm damage just west of Logan Pass has been stabilized to allow vehicle traffic but actual repairs will be deferred until fall.
"Our park road crews did a fantastic job of clearing the Sun Road this winter and spring as safely and quickly as possible to allow park partner, the Federal Highway Administration, and contractor Sandry Construction of Bigfork access to tackle Sun Road repairs from torrential rain damage last November. I am very proud and grateful for the remarkable performance by everyone to safely get the storm damage repaired to a point that the entire historic roadway can be opened for the enjoyment of summer park visitors," stated Mick Holm, park superintendent. Holm added, "Moderate snow pack combined with mild spring weather – and a lot of hard work and long days – all contributed to the construction of a 350-foot retaining wall just below the east tunnel that required the building of a mechanically stabilized earthen (MSE) wall." The roadway across the retaining wall site will be paved this week.
Also, a temporary bridge is currently being installed to span a section of the Sun Road where both lanes were washed away during the November 2006 storm. This washout will be rebuilt this summer / fall underneath the bridge. The temporary bridge will be removed prior to the onset of winter.
The delayed opening of the entire Sun Road was necessitated by road damage caused by heavy rainfall in November 2006. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made more than $7 million available to the NPS for the repair of road damage through the Emergency Repairs on Federally-Owned (ERFO) lands program.
Once the alpine section of the Sun Road opens across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (elevation 6, 646 feet), visitors may travel the entire 50-mile National Historic Landmark road between St. Mary and West Glacier. Prior to the opening of the alpine section of roadway, visitors could travel 43 miles of the entire scenic roadway.
July 1 through Labor Day, Glacier National Park’s new (optional) Going-to-the-Sun Road shuttle system will provide free transportation to locations along the road, and between Fish Creek Campground and Apgar Village locations. On the Lake McDonald Valley route, 12-person buses will run every 15 minutes between stops. On the St. Mary and Apgar routes, larger buses will run every 30 minutes. The last buses will leave Logan Pass at 9:30 pm to both St. Mary Visitor Center and the new Apgar Transit Center which will also open Sunday, July 1.
Holm further noted, "This optional visitor service is intended to provide an alternative for travelers driving the Sun Road. As part of the park’s program to minimize impacts on park visitors throughout the 8-10 year Sun Road rehabilitation that begins this summer."
With the opening of the entire Sun Road on Sunday morning, parking and rest room facilities will be available at Logan Pass. The Logan Pass Visitor Center will also open for the season. Trails in the Logan Pass area are currently covered by snow. The popular Highline Trail is currently being evaluated this week for snow hazards and potential trail damage from the November 2006 storm.
This is one of the latest openings of the entire Sun Road. The latest opening of the entire Sun Road, on record, was July 10, 1943, when the road was allowed to melt out. In recent years, the latest opening of Logan Pass occurred on June 28, 2002, after a record eight feet of snow fell between May 22 and June 10. The earliest Logan Pass opening to motorized traffic occurred on May 16, 1987.
Park roads are open for vehicle traffic; however, a portion of the unimproved Inside North Fork Road along the park’s northwest edge remains closed to vehicle use between Fish Creek and Logging Creek due to road damage.
For current information on park road and weather conditions, and visitor services throughout Glacier National Park, visit the park's website at http://www.nps.gov/glac, dial 511 anywhere in Montana (select option 5) or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.