Folks heading into Many Glacier for the next two years can expect delays and in some cases, the road to the valley will be closed down entirely.
A major two-year road construction project on Many Glacier Road is slated to begin April 1, 2020, Glacier National Park announced last week.
April 1 through May 17 and Sept. 21 through Dec. 16 next year the Many Glacier Road will be closed to visitor traffic at the park boundary due to large-scale road construction projects. Officials with Glacier National Park say the large-scale construction project will “significantly increase travel times to the Many Glacier area,” and visitors should “expect travel delays up to 40 minutes each way from Babb to the Many Glacier Hotel.”
Delays at night could be much longer.
Visitors traveling through construction zones Monday through Friday between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. may experience delays of up to three hours due to night construction.
The construction will principally include two main sections, from Babb, to the park boundary, and from the entrance station to the Many Glacier Hotel. It will not extend into the Swiftcurrent Valley.
The work along the section from Babb to the park boundary will entail slump repairs, drainage repairs, road surface repairs, and culvert replacement. The section from the entrance station to the hotel will entail road repairs, drainage repairs, culvert replacements, and bridge repairs. The upper parking lot of the Many Glacier Hotel will be completely reconstructed. Once all of the major repairs are completed the road surface will be milled and an overlay of asphalt placed for the driving surface.
The section between the park boundary and the entrance station, the worst portion of this road due to severe slumping, will have the asphalt milled up leaving a gravel surface for the park to grade and maintain the drivability. The gravel will remain until a permanent fix is completed at a future date.
The Federal Highway Administration has worked for over 40 years on finding a solution to the deep-seated slumping occurring along this stretch of road. Two years ago they installed horizontal drains in the worst of these slumps and have succeeded in stopping the slumping. This technology will be applied on other slumped areas prior to repairing the road base and laying new asphalt. The park is hopeful this will occur in the next five years.
Park management is encouraging visitors to explore other areas of the park if they wish to avoid significant delays. For the duration of the project, the entire Many Glacier Campground will transfer to “reservation only” in order to reduce congestion in the area during construction. Once construction is complete, a portion of Many Glacier campsites will revert back to “first-come, first-served” as usual, but in the meantime, the spots can be reserved for $23 per night at www.recreation.gov starting in March 2020.
In anticipation of long delays and congestion in the popular Many Glacier Valley in 2020 and 2021, backcountry campers are encouraged to select alternative hiking routes that do not begin or end in Many Glacier. Similarly, backcountry campers are encouraged to pick up their permits (advance reservations or walk-in permits) at one of four other permit issuing stations in the park, including Apgar, St. Mary, Two Medicine, and Polebridge.
Park officials also encourage boaters to recreate on park waters other than waters around Many Glacier to avoid congestion due to construction.
There was a rumor that the work would eventually result in 40 to 50 more parking spaces near the hotel, but that’s not the case, said spokeswoman Gina Kerzman. The parking area near the hotel will be changed to one-way, and re-striped, which will result in some new spaces, but not 40 to 50.
All commercial visitor services at Many Glacier, including lodging, food and beverage, retail, boat tours and horseback rides, will be operating as normal during construction.