Tuesday, April 23, 2024
56.0°F

Park plows beyond Avalanche

| April 3, 2024 2:00 AM

Glacier National Park plow crews made good progress Monday. On the west side they made the initial clearing of the Camas Road and cleared around Fish Creek campground. On the Going-to-the-Sun Road they plowed beyond Avalanche Creek to the Red Rock Slide, which is estimated to be between eight and 10 feet deep.

Crews also plowed out the Avalanche Campground and parking area. It is not open to motor vehicles. The hiker-biker closure is at Moose Country as of Wednesday. When crews aren't working (late in the day and weekends, people typically are allowed to go farther).

The Camas Road is closed to vehicles, but open to hikers and bikers.

The Sun Road on the east side is now open to Rising Sun. Crews have started plowing the Many Glacier Road and have plowed the Two Medicine Road.

 There’s 10 to 16 inches of snow on the ground at Avalanche.

While there’s plenty of good news on the plowing front, motorists and bicyclists should be prepared for construction this spring and summer, and the inevitable delays.

Here’s a look at the construction projects on tap for this spring and summer:

Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation 

The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road will undergo the last phase of construction work that began in May 2023. The last 2.8 miles of construction will focus on paving Going-to-the-Sun Road, starting west of Sprague Creek Campground up to North Lake McDonald Road. Construction will resume this month, and is expected to be completed in late May to early June, weather permitting. Construction will cause delays along Going-to-the-Sun Road. Visitors should anticipate up to a 30-minute wait.

Park Headquarters

In August a rehabilitation project of the park headquarters complex roads and parking lot will be taking place into the fall. Be aware of construction vehicles, workers and possible wait times if entering headquarters.

Fiber Optic Installation at West Glacier, East Glacier, St. Mary, and Many Glacier

Fiber optic lines will be installed in West Glacier, East Glacier, St. Mary, and Many Glacier to improve internet access for NPS administrative purposes. Traffic delays will be minimal, but visitors are asked to use caution and watch for construction workers and equipment on or near the road this summer.

 At West Glacier, fiber optic line will be installed across the Middle Fork bridge and on the east side up to Grinnell Drive in park headquarters. Traffic may be restricted to a single lane on Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Grinnell Drive. Work in West Glacier will be completed within 2-3 weeks.

 In East Glacier, fiber optic cable will be installed across U.S. Highway 2 and along Montana 49. Lane reductions or single lane closures are possible along Montana 49 up to the East Glacier Ranger Station. Work will be completed within one-two weeks.

Fiber optic work will take place close to the St. Mary Entrance on the west side of U.S. 89 near restaurants and hotels. Minimal traffic impacts are expected, but there will be possible pedestrian and parking impacts. Work in St. Mary will be completed within one-two weeks.

Fiber optic work in Many Glacier includes an extension of fiber optic internet service from Babb to the Many Glacier Ranger Station. The line will be installed on the north side of the road. The work will impact areas near the entrance sign, entrance station, Apikuni Falls Trailhead, pull-offs along the Many Glacier Road, the Many Glacier Hotel T-intersection, and the Swiftcurrent area of the road. There may be lane reductions or single lane traffic on Many Glacier Road. Work will be completed within four-six weeks.

Swiftcurrent and Many Glacier

Starting Sept. 16, the road past Many Glacier Hotel at the T-intersection will be closed due to construction on the Swiftcurrent Water Distribution System and road rehabilitation. Construction will begin after Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Many Glacier Hotel and Many Glacier Campground are closed for the 2024 season. Trail access will still be allowed for trails such as Ptarmigan Tunnel (and points beyond), Iceberg Lake, and Swiftcurrent Pass. However, visitors will need to park in the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot, walk to the closure point and use the horse trail to bypass construction. Signs will indicate the detour. Cars will not be able to pass through the construction zone. For best access to Grinnell and Lake Josephine Trails, start from the South Shore Trailhead at the south end of Many Glacier Hotel. Primitive camping at Many Glacier Campground will not be available in Fall 2024 due to construction. Many Glacier Campground’s regular summer season is from early June to mid-September.

The Many Glacier Road from the park boundary to the entrance station will undergo dust mitigation treatment. The treatment work will begin in late June, weather permitting. This gravel stretch of road is slated for construction and paving in 2027.

 Upper McDonald Creek Bridge

Construction on the Upper McDonald Creek Bridge that started in 2023 will continue in 2024 including demolition of the existing bridge. The bridge provides access to the northwest shore of Lake McDonald including private homes, the Lake McDonald Ranger Station, and trailheads. When completed, the new bridge will be approximately 30 feet upstream of the existing bridge, requiring a realignment of the road approaches.

Similar to 2023, North Lake McDonald Road will be closed for the entire 2024 season at the Going-to-the-Sun Road intersection. There will be no public access, including vehicles, hiking, or biking and no parking beyond or in the vicinity of the intersection. Visitors intending on hiking the Johns Lake Loop Trail will not be able to complete the loop and will need to turn around where trail closure signs are posted. Bridge construction is expected to conclude in August 2024.

 Inside North Fork Road

Grading will be ongoing throughout the summer on the road to Bowman and Kintla lakes. Operations will not disrupt travel to these destinations. Major road work between Camas and Anaconda creek could impact hiker and biker travel.

Polebridge 

Construction on Glacier Drive in Polebridge that began in 2023 will continue in 2024. Visitors to the Polebridge area should expect 30-minute delays before arriving at and departing from the park entrance. Visitors are encouraged not to drive all the way to the North Fork entrance unless they have a vehicle reservation to decrease traffic in the work zone. Information regarding the ongoing construction work will be posted at the Polebridge Mercantile. Updates for the construction project can be found on Montana Department of Transportation’s website at: https://highways.dot.gov/federal-lands/projects/mt/flathead.