Strategy to relieve Sun Road congestion

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Glacier National Park stakeholders are currently debating how to best address increasing congestion along Going-to-the-Sun Road. A number of ideas have come forward — some more controversial than others — and recently the officials who oversee Flathead County’s Eagle Transit public bus system threw their suggestion into the mix.

Dubbed “The Mountain Climber,” this ambitious plan outlines a strategy to relieve Sun Road congestion by expanding the current park transit’s routes, stops and hours of operation. At the same time, the plan looks to better connect Glacier visitors to the park’s gateway communities.

Howls about Glacier’s sub-par transit system have been echoing across the park for years. This all-encompassing plan looks to address those shortcomings once and for all.

But building a robust transit system will take buy-in from a diverse set of community leaders. Already support has come from Flathead County commissioners, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, Whitefish’s visitor bureau, and area hotel mangers, among other players in the valley.

Now it’s up to Glacier Park officials to put their support, and funding, behind the plan. Without it, The Mountain Climber will be stuck spinning its wheels while Sun Road traffic continues to stack up.

Officials with Eagle Transit and Glacier Park are expected to discuss the plan in the coming weeks. In the meantime, interested people can submit comments on the Sun Road corridor plan through Nov. 6. Call (406) 888-7898 for more details.

Don’t say they didn’t warn you.

For years government officials have been working toward compliance of the federal REAL ID Act, passed in 2005. And finally, the deadline for Montanans is less than a year away.

By Oct. 1, 2020, Montanans must have REAL-ID-compliant identification if they want to fly commercially and do not have a passport, military ID or alternative form of identification approved by the Transportation Security Administration.

And it seems there’s a bit of procrastination underfoot in regard to the REAL ID. Only 42 percent of Americans hold passports, while 99 million Americans don’t have a REAL ID yet, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

In Montana, deadlines for getting the ID have come and gone as the state filed for extensions. Then two years ago legislators passed a law to comply with the REAL ID Act, but didn’t make the ID mandatory for its residents.

Time is of the essence now, so make an appointment at the local Department of Motor Vehicles office and get the ball rolling for your REAL ID if you plan to fly commercially.

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