WEST GLACIER - Glacier National Park has announced plans for major construction areas during the 2023 summer season.
Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and prepare for traffic delays at the West Entrance and closures in the North Fork due to construction.
Bridge Preservation Project
Glacier National Park is continuing a construction project to rehabilitate 13 bridges throughout the park. The work will take place over the next year. This is the continuation of a two-year project that began last summer.
Due to bridge construction and road conditions, all roads in the North Fork area of the park are expected to be closed to vehicle traffic until May 25, 2023. Early season work is proposed to complete bridge approach excavations in the Spring. All spring work is dependent on weather conditions and site accessibility.
The Bowman, Kintla, Akokala and Ford bridges, located in the North Fork, are anticipated to have short delays from May 26 to early September 2023. Kintla, Akokala and Ford bridges will likely be closed to all traffic starting Sept. 5 through mid-November. The Bowman Bridge is expected to be closed to all traffic from Sept. 11 through mid-November. The park anticipates visitors will not have access to Bowman and Kintla areas during the construction closures, including campgrounds and trailheads. In addition to the Bridge Preservation Project, the GNP Road Crew will also be grading the last five miles of the road to Kintla Lake from July through fall 2023. Visitors need to use caution as there will be heavy truck traffic and minor delays. Roads in the North Fork area typically close at the end of November due to winter conditions.
If early season work is completed in spring, Bowman Creek Bridge will only require a short duration closure in the fall.
The Fish Creek Bridge will be paved in late May before Fish Creek Campground opens for the season. The bridge is anticipated to have limited delays in traffic until its expected closure to motorized, pedestrian, and bicycle access from May 1 through May 25, 2023.
The North Fork Bridge, located on the north end of Camas Road, will be resurfaced and the roadway leading up to the bridge will be milled, paved, and graded. Work on the North Fork Bridge is expected to start in April and go through late fall 2023. Visitors should expect short delays when crossing the bridge.
The Lee Creek Bridge, located along Chief Mountain Highway, will have short delays starting September through late fall 2023.
Since the last construction season, work has been substantially completed on the Anaconda, Camas, Dutch Creek, Quartz and Logging Creek bridges located on the Inside North Fork Road.
Improvements to the bridges include bridge deck and approach repairs, timber pile replacement and repairs, timber curb replacement, painting, concrete repair, erosion control measures, and more. The work is being completed to preserve the existing bridges and ensure continued usage by preventing failure which would require full bridge replacement.
Lake McDonald Utilities Project
Construction on the Lake McDonald Utilities Project is expected to continue along Going-to-the-Sun Road from the south end of Lake McDonald near Apgar Campground to Sprague Creek Campground until May 15, 2023; however, the park anticipates visitors will have vehicle and recreational access on Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Lake McDonald Lodge by May 5 at 6 a.m. Visitors should drive and bike with caution in this area due to uneven surfaces and potholes.
Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation
The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road, from the foot of Lake McDonald to North Lake McDonald Road, will undergo three phases of rehabilitation work. 9.3 miles of Going-to-the-Sun Road is expected to be milled and repaved starting May through fall 2023, weather permitting.
“The pavement structure is over 27 years old. Given the edge conditions along the road, we could not add any more pavement thickness without creating unsafe pavement edge drop-offs for vehicles and impacting historic headwalls, drainage chutes, and having negative impacts to vegetation,” said Federal Highway’s Michael Traffalis.
Visitors should anticipate up to a 30-minute wait due to construction on Going-to-the-Sun Road along Lake McDonald starting in May. Entry to Going-to-the-Sun Road from the West Entrance before the 6 a.m. reservation period will not be possible due to construction activities. To avoid congestion-related delays, visitors are encouraged to use the St. Mary Entrance to access Going-to-the-Sun Road, including popular attractions such as Logan Pass and Avalanche, when the road fully opens for the season.
All pull-outs in the construction zone along Lake McDonald are anticipated to be closed through late fall 2023. Visitors should drive and bike with caution in this area due to uneven surfaces and potholes.
The construction zone is anticipated to be closed nightly until late fall with opportunities to go through at scheduled times. Visit the Glacier National Park website for the latest construction updates.
Upper McDonald Creek Bridge
In early April, bridge replacement will begin on upper McDonald Creek. The bridge provides access to the northwest shore of Lake McDonald including private homes, the Lake McDonald Ranger Station, and trailheads. The new bridge will be built approximately 30 feet upstream of the existing bridge, requiring a realignment of the road approaches.
"The existing bridge is 58 years old. Repairs in recent years have resulted in improvements, but deterioration will continue with the structure's age, continued use, and environmental conditions,” said Traffalis. “If the bridge is not replaced, progressive failure will cause further load restrictions, and the bridge will eventually become unsafe for vehicle access and will need to be closed and/or removed for safety reasons.”
There will be a full closure during construction to North Lake McDonald Road at the intersection with the Going-to-the-Sun Road. There will be no public access, including vehicles, hiking, or biking and no parking at this intersection. Visitors intending on hiking the Johns Lake Loop Trail will need to turn around where trail closed signs are posted. Hikers will not be able to complete the loop.
Bridge construction is expected to go through the entire 2023 construction season and conclude in late 2024.
Outside the Park
Starting July 10, 2023, a portion of Glacier Drive, which is just north of the Polebridge businesses to the bridge entering the park, will be under construction.
Construction within the business area of Polebridge will begin on Aug. 14, 2023. Parking will be restricted to outside the work area until construction is completed.
Visitors to the Polebridge area should expect 30-minute delays before arriving at and departing the park entrance. Updates for the construction project can be found on the Montana Department of Transportation's website. Visitors should know, this 30-minute construction zone will be in addition to construction zones inside the park. Please see the “Bridge Preservation Project” above.
U.S. Highway 2
Paving and chip reseal work will resume in the Marias Pass area of U.S. Highway 2 in spring 2023. Expect some traffic control, with single-lane restrictions and short delays through summer 2023. More information about the construction project can be found on the Montana Department of Transportation's website.
U.S. Highway 89
The section of U.S. Highway 89 immediately east and south of St. Mary, MT will be under construction this summer. This is the continuation of a multi-year project that has been ongoing for the last few summers. Expect some traffic control, with single-lane restrictions and short delays between Hudson Bay Divide and Kiowa. More information about the construction project can be found on the Montana Department of Transportation's website.