Montana,  Quality of Life Benefits of Transportation,  Resilience

Collaboration & Overcoming Challenges: North of Kiowa – North

The Montana Department of Transportation is delivering a more resilient route for drivers traveling north of Kiowa, along the east side of Glacier National Park. The project has presented a number of unprecedented challenges since its start in 2018.

MDT’s North of Kiowa – North Project is a full reconstruct with new alignment along the US-89 corridor north of Kiowa and bordering the east side of Glacier National Park. Construction was entirely within the borders of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and required close coordination with tribal inspectors to ensure no cultural-sensitive areas were inadvertently disturbed.

The biggest challenges came after completion of large 2:1 cut slopes, when layers of glacial till created instability and slides. Mitigating the slope failure took months of research and collaboration between the contractor, Blackfeet Tribe, and MDT to identify the best procedure. Weather presented another challenge. An elevation of 5,600 feet brought extended and unexpected winter weather (i.e. four feet of overnight snowfall in September 2019) and winds up to 90 mph, severely limiting the typical season for construction operations.

Despite the unforeseen forces of nature, slopes were stabilized and the project was able to reach about 90 percent completion by the end of 2020. Rumble strips and a seal and cover will be completed by the end of summer in 2021.

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