Stoplight sought near railroad underpass on U.S. 2

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A proposal to install a stop light at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Flathead Drive near the Conrad Complex to accommodate traffic in and out of the planned Glacier Rail Park in Kalispell is being reviewed by the Montana Department of Transportation.

Representatives of KLJ Engineering of Helena met Monday with the Flathead County commissioners to detail the latest traffic plan and explain the challenges of accommodating truck traffic to the future rail park.

The Flathead County Economic Development Authority is leading the effort to develop the 40-acre Glacier Rail Park, and is moving forward with design work and tenant searches as funding is finalized for the project.

Once the centralized industrial district is developed, CHS Kalispell, a longtime operator of the grain elevator on Center and Fifth Avenue West, would be among the rail park tenants.

KLJ and the development authority initially considered a stop light at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Montclair Drive, the street that runs between Officemax and Pacific Recycling, but the curve of U.S. 2 and the angle of that intersection is challenging for trucks, KLJ engineer Kathy Harris said.

Flathead Drive, across from Woodland Park Drive and directly downhill of the railroad viaduct over U.S. 2, is at a 90-degree angle with U.S. 2, and would allow trucks to turn more efficiently, she said. The rebuilt intersection, if approved by the state, would have pedestrian crossings and warning flashers on both sides of the highway.

Flathead Drive would be reconstructed to accommodate heavy truck traffic.

The proposed intersection also could be built to accommodate left-hand turns from Woodland Park Drive onto U.S. 2., Harris said. Currently traffic from Woodland Park Drive must turn right onto U.S. 2.

Commissioners Phil Mitchell and Pam Holmquist said they have concerns about a stop light in that area. Commissioner Gary Krueger was absent on Monday.

“Coming from the west down the hill, that needs to be addressed to my comfort,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also noted that Montclair Drive already is an established side road for truck traffic on and off U.S. 2.

Harris said the final decision for the stop light and intersection rebuild will be made by the Department of Transportation, but input from the county will be considered.

A delegation from the Flathead County Economic Development Authority and city of Kalispell recently traveled to Washington, D.C., in support of a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant application for Glacier Rail Park. It’s the third time the development authority has applied for the federal money.


Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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