KALISPELL, Montana — A multiyear rehabilitation project on the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road will likely be finished in early 2017, Glacier National Park officials say.
Park officials said this summer's construction will focus on a 3.5-mile stretch between Avalanche Creek and Logan pit on the west side, and a 9-mile stretch between Siyeh Bend and Rising Sun on the east side. Some work is also planned in the St. Mary area.
At a meeting Wednesday, landscape architect and project manager Jack Gordon said the final cost will be $150 million to $170 million. He said another $20 million to $40 million is needed to finish the project.
Most of that would be used to repave about a 16-mile section between the West Glacier entrance and Avalanche Creek.
"I remember thinking at one point that we couldn't get it done," he said. "We were questioning whether we were even going to get the alpine section with the pot of money we had. We feel pretty lucky."
The construction season runs from mid-June to mid-October.
Gordon said one of the most difficult sections was completed last year with an alpine segment between Haystack Creek and Big Bend. He said workers encountered avalanche hazards and a major rock slide that severed the road. Workers had to move 500 cubic yards of debris.
"We crossed a major hurdle this year," Gordon said. "We've completed most of the alpine segment."
The scenic road has provided special challenges for workers, who have been using equipment and techniques designed for the project.
"It is just a really unique project with really unique constraints," said Mike Baron, resident engineer for federal highways in the park.
Though officials have noted 2017 as a goal for completion of the rehabilitation work, overall maintenance is ongoing with the high-elevation road. The characteristic stone masonry along the route takes a beating from rock fall, avalanches and vehicle collisions.
"We put a lot of energy into the stone masonry because it's a National Historic Landmark," Gordon said. "We have worked to maintain that historic integrity."