RED LODGE — More than three weeks after massive flooding damaged several areas along the Beartooth Highway, the iconic road is undergoing heavy construction in hopes to reopen by the end of July.
The highway is a must for many travelers and locals alike. Snow is generally the reason for the delay in opening, but the flooding that devastated much of the region also hammered the road in multiple spots.
"This is major, major damage and the contractors, MDT folks and the people of Red Lodge are working as hard as they can to repair the road," said Tom Tilzey, the maintenance chief for Billings district of the Montana Department of Transportation.
The road connects Red Lodge to Cooke City and the summer months are crucial for the economies of both towns. Crews have been working around the clock to repair the damage. The repairs are important but making sure that history doesn't repeat itself is key.
"What we’re doing now isn’t a band-aid fix, it’s a permanent fix... We're trying to do it right the first time," added Tilzey.
While it's not ideal to be closed for large portions of the summer, there's confidence that the road will reopen soon.
"I'm still thinking it'll be the end of July....it will take time to repair some of these bigger spots but the end of July seems like when it'll happen. Hopefully we get a long fall season and lots of people can utilize the road before it closes in mid-October," said Tilzey.