RONAN — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is finally ready to show the public what it has in mind for the "Ronan North Project" following several years of planning.
It's an extensive construction that will start several years of effort to rework the last remaining two-lane sections of Highway 93 in the Mission Valley.
It was almost 15 years ago that MDT wrapped up construction of the four-lane section of US Highway 93 from Polson south through Pablo.
But pushing that improvement south through the remainder of the Mission Valley is proving to be a very difficult "lift" because it's expensive and complicated.
But later this month, MDT engineers are ready to show off their final design for the first "missing link", the "Ronan North Project."
"From generally Dairy Queen north to tie into the four-lane roads going north of there. And it's also the development of starting to build the couplet for the future construction of what will be the Ronan Urban Project," explained MDT Missoula District Administrator Bob Vosen.
That's a 1.7-mile section, where the intersection of Third Avenue and Old Highway 93 will be merged into a single intersection with traffic signals, and the closure of the Spring Creek Road intersection for safety.
Like all the future improvements in Ronan, this one will be designed to deal with the town's growing traffic problem. While only a problem at times during much of the year, commercial and recreational traffic sometimes creates a backup miles long. But it's not as simple as just widening the road.
"We're looking at the potential of building the north part first. And then possibly looking at building the south part," Vosen said. "The tough part is the chunk in the middle and that's where there's a lot of work that needs to be done. A lot of coordination with the City of Ronan."
MDT sees the couplet, splitting traffic by shifting southbound traffic to the west, as the most affordable fix. But it's as much a public works project as a highway project.
"They've got a lot of infrastructure that needs work as well there too. Water lines, sewer lines that are under the roads that need to be improved and replaced because they're been there a long time," Vosen explained. "And we don't want to put a new road over the top of the infrastructure that could fail and we'd have to dig up a new road."
But if all goes well, MDT hopes to get the northern project underway next year.
MDT's open house for the "Ronan North Project" will take place in two virtual presentations, from 5 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15, and 12 to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16. If you'd like details on joining those meetings online email Laura.Langdon@kljeng.com or call MDT at (406) 594-5354 to RSVP.
Comments may be submitted online or in writing to the Montana Department of Transportation, Missoula office at PO Box 7039, Missoula, MT 59807-7039. Please note that comments are for project UPN 1744019.
The public is also encouraged to contact Bob Vosen at (406) 523-5802 or Project Design Engineer Miki Lloyd at (406) 444‑9200.