Plans in the works to widen Montana 40

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The Montana Department of Transportation plans to widen a segment of Montana 40 near Whitefish.

According to information from the department, it is seeking comments on a proposal to widen a 2.6-mile segment of the highway from the intersection of Montana 40 and U.S. 93 south of Whitefish to Dillon Road.

The proposed work includes widening the road to add a two-way left-turn lane, paving, chip seal, upgraded pavement marking, signs and guardrail. The purpose of the project is to promote safer traffic flow and preserve the distressed pavement.

Project Design Engineer William Squires noted there have been accidents on that stretch of roadway, and that there have been a lot of comments from the public “that we should do something there.

“There have been some rear-end crashes, some close calls and drivers passing on the right,” Squires said.

While there is no specific location for the two-way, left-hand turn, some have indicated a desire for one to the entrance of North Valley Hospital.

“It has been talked about, but it could be hard to do with trying to line it up with Emerald Heights,” Squires said. We want to limit right-of-way issues and there would some there.”

Construction is tentatively planned for 2022, depending on the completion of design and availability of money. New right-of-way acquisition and relocation of utilities may be required. Transportation staff will contact all potentially affected landowners prior to performing survey work on their land. Staff will again contact landowners prior to construction regarding property acquisition and temporary construction permits.

There is also a study currently considering the potential impacts an expansion to five lanes would have to traffic congestion, safety, intersection operations, access, adjacent properties and environmental concerns for the entire Montana 40 corridor from the U.S. 93 junction to the U.S. 2 junction near Columbia Falls.

“The traffic volume in that area is 60 to 80 percent higher during the summer than any other time of year and it’s just hard to handle the traffic congestion,” Squires said.

He said the department is still waiting on survey results before it makes any further decisions.

For more information contact Missoula District Administrator Ed Toavs at 406-523-5802 or Squires at 406-444 6228.

Written comments may be sent to the Montana Department of Transportation Missoula office at P.O. Box 7039, Missoula, MT 59807-7039, or online at:

https://mdt.mt.gov/mdt/comment_form.shtml

Those submitting comments should note they are for project UPN 9187001.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.

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