Bypass Has Taken Decades, Some Hoped It Would Take Longer - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Bypass Has Taken Decades, Some Hoped It Would Take Longer

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KALISPELL -

A decades-old project could come to a close in just three years, and some Flathead Valley residents say they aren't thrilled.

At Wednesday night's open house, Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and Kalispell officials gave people the nitty gritty details of their construction plans for the highway that bypasses US 93.

Right now they're building a Three Mile Drive overpass. Next year, they'll start moving north, to connect the four lane interstate with what they've already finished up near Glacier High School. The final phase will link up the southern end to US 2.

"We're hoping in three years MDT will have that completed and we'll be driving and moving traffic," said Thomas Jentz, the Kalispell's planning director.

It's not just a road they're building, though. Jentz says they'll put up some walls to block out the noise along the Empire Estates subdivision, as well as a bike path.

That's what the open house was all about. The plans are basically set in stone now, but not everyone is clear about what exactly they're facing.

"MDT really wants residents in that area to be aware of what that construction is going to look like because there's going to be heavy road work right out their back doors, the views they might have had out their back doors is going to change, sound walls could be 8, 10, 12 feet tall," explained Jentz.

There are still some kinks that have to be worked out and it looks like the devil is in those details.

"I want to know what kind of wall it is, if it's going to cut off my scenery of the mountains and of Big Mountain. I'm just really upset about that," said Carol Eckholt, who lives in Empire Estates and came out to the open house.

Eckholt bought her home back in 2005, after leaving Lakeside. Even then the bypass was on the books.

"I've been there a long time and I just didn't think the bypass would go by in my lifetime," said Eckholt.

The new highway will also cut right through Parkridge Drive, so Parkridge will have to dead end on either side of the bypass, and will probably end up as a trailhead for the paths that are coming.

Last year, the Montana Transportation Board gave Kalispell more than $30 million to finish the remaining northern half of the alternate route.

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