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  Comments (1) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
 
Project Underway to Revamp Highway 93 in Whitefish
Crews will work through summer
Whitefish Construction
Construction continues on U.S. Highway 93 at the bridge spanning the Whitefish River in Whitefish. - Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
A major U.S. Highway 93 reconstruction project in west Whitefish is now in full swing, with the end goal of updating antiquated infrastructure, relieving traffic congestion and making the road safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

The first phase of the Montana Department of Transportation project is focusing on the stretch of Highway 93 between Baker Avenue and Karrow Avenue. Crews began working on April 15 and will continue through the summer before shutting down for the winter. LHC Inc. out of Kalispell is the contractor for the project.

The first phase will replace the bridge over the Whitefish River and widen the highway west of the bridge to three lanes, with a turning lane in the middle. A detour bridge adjacent to the existing bridge will allow for continued traffic flow during construction.

There will no other detours, according to Bob Vosen of the state transportation department, and delays should be no longer than 15 minutes.

Other phase one work includes improvements to the storm drainage system, gutters and curbs, as well as sidewalk and pedestrian/bike path construction, according to a project overview from the transportation department. Crews will also construct retaining walls and place utilities underground.

The transportation department’s project overview says the first phase is expected to be completed by July 31, 2014, though Jay McMillan, construction manager for LHC, said the majority of the work should be done this year. McMillan says the weather has been cooperative so far and the project is currently ahead of schedule.

The second phase will continue roadwork past Karrow to Mountainside Drive, and the third phase will extend to mile post 133.
“It will be quite an improvement, both aesthetic and functional,” McMillan said of the revamped thoroughfare.

The two-lane highway was originally constructed in 1936. Over the decades as Whitefish and the surrounding area grew in population, traffic increased dramatically. The road wasn’t built to handle such high traffic volume, according to WGM Group, the Missoula-based firm that designed the Highway 93 reconstruction project.

WGM Group published a report several years ago showing that average daily traffic was 10,200 vehicles in 2003. By 2010, that number had grown to 12,200. And by 2030, the report projected average daily traffic to reach 20,400 vehicles.

The design firm also noted that the highway corridor “lacks important safety features like adequate stopping sight distance, shoulders, turn lanes, sidewalks, bicycle facilities, and street lighting. This has contributed to a higher than average accident rate for this type of highway.”

Crews were expected to be working east of the bridge this week. LHC released a construction update noting that “lane closures and reduced speeds will be in effect for the remainder of construction activities.” No street parking is allowed in the construction zone east of the bridge.

“Motorists are encouraged to adjust their schedules and reminded to watch for work crews and equipment as well as signs indicating reduced speed limits,” LHC’s advisory states.

Construction update meetings are held every Monday morning at 10 a.m. at the northeastern corner of Highway 93 and O’Brien Avenue. Local businesses and homeowners are encouraged to attend.

For more information on the project, including contact information, visit the Montana Department of Transportation’s project website at www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/whitefishwest.
 
On 05-06-13, mooseberryinn commented....
Well, long overdue for improvements, but oh, the pain this summer.  Hang in there folks, it will only seem like forever.
 
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