Crews work on two Montana 200 projects

by Clark Fork Valley Press
| June 23, 2020 4:34 PM

Montana Department of Transportation work crews are expected to continue working on two projects on Montana 200 in Sanders County this week.

Construction is expected to resume on Friday, June 19 to chip seal the roadway. Work will take place on Highway 200 near the Thompson River Bridge and continuing about 2.7 miles east toward Plains. Work is expected to take 3-4 days to complete depending on weather.

During the day, drivers can expect traffic to be reduced to one lane. A pilot car will guide traffic through construction.

Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays and will be driving on loose gravel.

At night, signals will control traffic on both ends of the project. Two lanes of traffic will be open between the traffic signals.

Speed limit is reduced to 35 miles per hour.

This section of Montana Highway 200 was built in the 1930s and has a higher than average crash rate, due in large part to wildlife and rocks falling into the roadway.

Improvements have included:

- Widening the travel lanes to 12 feet, adding 4-foot-wide shoulders and guardrails.

- Stabilizing uphill slopes, removing rocks and installing rock fall barriers.

- Extending wildlife fencing and installing Wildlife Deterrent Mats.

- Installing a wildlife crossing underpass (bridge).

Also, work continued on the Clark Fork Bridge project at Trout Creek.

According to the department, it and its contracting partner Kiewit used an innovative method to expedite the construction process.

Crews used a “deck panel cart” to move the 24,000-pound concrete panels across the bridge deck on a rail system. The panels were then lifted off the cart and put into place by a crane. The deck panel cart rail system has been used in other states but is new to Montana.

Crews began work to replace the deck of the bridge on June 1 requiring a full-closure of the bridge. The Montana 200 Clark Fork River Bridge approximately one-mile northwest of Trout Creek is closed to all traffic.

The bridge is expected to remain closed until mid-July. The project is anticipated to be completed in September.

Local roads such as Blue Slide Road are not an alternative for large vehicles. Vehicles over 45 feet long need to use Interstate 90 or U.S. 2.