LAUREL – With 30 percent left to pave of the 10-mile stretch of road between Rockvale and Laurel, the project’s completion date will likely be pushed back three weeks, a Montana Department of Transportation official said Thursday
“Weather permitting, we should only be there a few more weeks. We’ll be onto a paved detour at the least. After that, onto the new highway,” said Bill Felton, manager of the U.S. 212 and 310 project.
“Anybody who travels this road will know that they’ve had a lot of near misses out here, said Felton. “We’re hoping that with this new construction it will reduce accidents and provide a lot more convenience.”
At four points, the road will break into two lanes traveling each direction and reduce bottlenecks. This provides faster traffic, more opportunities to pass and more room to emergency responders.
“As you come into the project from both ends, there will be four lanes. Coming north, and shortly after the bridges going south, you’ll merge to two lanes. You travel on the two-lane section for three or four miles,” Felton said. “Then it will split back into the four-lane section, for climbing lanes through the hills. Once we get onto the top, we get into flatter farm ground, it will go back to two lanes there. Then we’ll split back into four lanes at Farewell Creek Road. Then it will remain four lanes to Rockvale.”
Felton said the state purchased the right of way from landowners to allow the road to deviate west into the hills. Crews have tried to keep access points the same as before construction.
“Every access has been different,” Felton said. “But but we’ve tried to provide access to all the landowners in a reasonable fashion throughout the course of the project.”
Felton said crews did this by paving parts of county roads in the area. In some places, crews built tunnels that let farmers and livestock go under the roadway.
The new road will connect to the old one so that in effect, you could drive a circle from Laurel to Rockvale. Taking the new road on the way there, and the old one on the way back.
Currently, there is a small dirt detour on the old highway north of Rockvale. This has been a headache for drivers, sometimes causing traffic backup. Crews are asking the public to be patient.
Felton said this is all weather dependent, because paving can’t be done during, or right after a rainstorm.
To view a full map of the project, click here.