MISSOULA – Drivers will be kept off an 11-mile stretch of Interstate 90 on Saturday as crews do some blasting to cut the risk of more avalanches coming down on the freeway.
The freeway was closed for just over 24 hours, starting Wednesday afternoon, when slides came down across the westbound lanes in the canyon east of Lookout. That forced all traffic headed west to detour at St. Regis.
Those slides happened in a problematic stretch of the interstate which has seen avalanche closures in the past, including February 2014, when a combination of snow and rock slides closed the freeway for several days that winter.
On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Montana Department of Transportation will close the freeway for “avalanche mitigation” from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. That will impact both east and westbound traffic, giving crews room to use explosive charges to set off a controlled slide.
Some traffic will be allowed through, using pilot cars, but speeds will be reduced, and delays could be 30-minutes or longer.