Movement On Kalispell Bypass Slow, Council Hopes to Step On It - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Movement On Kalispell Bypass Slow, Council Hopes to Step On It

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KALISPELL -

After more than two decades, the US 93 Alternate Route in Kalispell is only about halfway complete, but city council is hoping to step on the gas pedal.

It is supposed to relieve pressure on Main Street and US 93 in Kalispell, and ensure tractor-trailers do not roll right through downtown, but Montana's Transportation Commission changed all that when they decided to re-evaluate the necessity of the bypass back in July.

"They basically said 'we need to re-evaluate our priorities. We're not sure that it's wise to be spending money here,' and that was sort of a ... It was a shock to us," said Thomas Jentz, director of planning for the city of Kalispell.

Jentz believes that this decision must stem from board turnover and lack of information. Looking at the numbers alone: Main Street sees about twenty-seven thousand commutes per day, and almost thirty-five thousand cars pass by Flathead Valley Community College daily. Although these figures peak in summertime, they are only going to grow.

"It was never really supposed to be stopped," conceded Doug Russell, Kalispell's City Manager.

Kalispell's City Council hopes to get over this bump in the road and give its official support for the completion of the bypass.

"What we're trying to do is just stress the importance of the project within the overall transportation system," said Russell.

Right now, Jentz says the designs and the land are essentially all in place, all that is left now is the money. He hopes to see this project end in three to four years.

Active construction continues on Reserve, before Glacier High School. This was funded by "grab bag" money left over from the 2013 construction year. With this half mile section completed, there will be just three more miles left to connect the completed southern portion of the bypass and the northern part.

The city council meeting is planned for 7:00 p.m. on September 3 and is open to the public.

Russell says the soonest the issue could be brought up before Montana's Transportation Commission is September 26.

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