Sun Road won’t open before June 21 this year, June 22 next

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Crews work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in this file photo. Over the past 10 years, the Park Service has spent about $200 million rebuilding the highway. More work will start this spring.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park won’t open to Logan Pass before June 21 this year and June 22 next year to motor vehicles, as the road will see a pavement preservation and chip sealing project.

Over the past 10 years or so, the Park Service in partnership with the federal Highways Administration has spent $200 million on rebuilding the storied highway. The $9 million pavement protection project looks to protect that investment, the Park said in a release.

The preservation project will focus on both the east and west sides of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Chief Mountain Road, the west portion of the Camas Road, Apgar Village Loop, the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn Loop and parking area, and other minor areas. Pavement preservation requires warm temperatures and dry conditions, the Park notes, which in Glacier, means the late spring and summer months.

The work will also impact spring hiker and biker access on the Sun Road and restrictions will likely be in place on both sides of the Logan Pass between Avalanche and Rising Sun. The Park will update its road status webpage with restrictions, and issue more information about restrictions once the work schedule is known.

Park plows usually start clearing the Sun Road of snow on the west side about the first week in April. It takes about three months to entirely clear and open the highway to vehicles, though hikers and bikers on a typical year start using it as soon as the plows start. Work will also commence in the fall. This fall, night work for pavement preservation is planned to begin on Sept. 2 on the Sun Road with traffic control and intermittent night closures. A full closure will likely be in place from Sept. 16-29 between Avalanche and Logan Pass. Logan Pass will remain accessible from the St. Mary Entrance during this time period. Traffic control will be in place at Logan Pass so pavement preservation can occur in the Logan Pass parking lot. The road is anticipated to reopen in its entirety on Sept. 30 before its routine winter closure, scheduled this year for Oct. 21, weather dependent.

The pavement preservation material should be hiker and biker friendly, the Park said.

Next year, Glacier, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, will award a contract to finalize the multi-year rehabilitation work on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Final work includes repairs to some masonry features, additional log rail replacement, and signing improvements.

HK Construction of Idaho held the previous contract to rebuild most of the highway. Local subcontractor Anderson Masonry did most of the stonework.

One road that won’t see any work is the Many Glacier Road. The road is in awful shape, but the Park is trying to determine the effectiveness of a new drainage system before making long-term improvements. Last year with a donation from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the park purchased a “durapatcher” — a machine that was able to temporarily repair some of the most significantly damaged areas.

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