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Badrock Canyon Corridor Planning Study

Badrock Canyon Corridor Planning Study

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Study Focus

The study area extends approximately one-quarter mile on either side of US Highway 2 (US 2) beginning at Reference Post (RP) 140.0 and ending at RP 142.4 (the approximate intersection of US 2/6th Street West in Hungry Horse). The study area is located within Flathead County.

U.S. Highway 2 (US 2) is a non-Interstate principal arterial on the National Highway System. The rural principal arterial system facilitates corridor movements with relatively long trip length, heavy travel density, and statewide or interstate importance. US 2 generally runs in an east-west direction and serves as the only route providing access to the western entrance of Glacier National Park.

Final Corridor Study Report
Final Report
Appendix A: Public & Agency Participation Materials
Appendix B: Existing and Projected Conditions
Appendix C: Environmental Scan
Appendix D: Improvement Options

Previous Planning Efforts

In 1995, the Columbia Heights-Hungry Horse Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) / Section 4(f) Evaluation was completed to assess the impacts of re-constructing 4.5 miles of US 2 from approximate Reference Post (RP) 138.3 to RP 142.7 between Columbia Heights and Hungry Horse in Flathead County, MT. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed a Record of Decision (ROD) on the FEIS on December 22, 1995. The ROD approved Alternative 1, which entailed a four- and five-lane design for the reconstruction of US 2. Pursuant to the FEIS, MDT initiated two reconstruction projects within the Columbia Heights-Hungry Horse-West corridor. The Columbia Heights-East project extended from RP 138.3 to RP 140.1, and the Hungry Horse-West project extended from RP 140.1 to RP 142.7.

In the years following completion of the Columbia Heights-Hungry Horse FEIS and ROD, Flathead County experienced substantial growth, which resulted in the need to update traffic volumes and accident rates. Federal and state regulations relevant to some project activities had changed. Additionally, other concerns were identified that required MDT to make minor design modifications or that had the potential to dictate new and more notable project design changes. Some of these design activities resulted in more accurate quantification of the environmental effects disclosed in the FEIS. Lastly, controversy surrounded the alternative approved in the ROD. For these reasons, MDT conducted an Environmental Re-evaluation of the FEIS and Section 4(f) Evaluation in 2002.

The Re-evaluation concluded the FEIS adequately described the impacts associated with reconstruction of US 2 within the limits of the Columbia Heights-East project. This reconstruction project proceeded and was completed in 2004. The Re-evaluation also concluded the FEIS adequately discussed the environmental effects of building a new bridge across the South Fork of the Flathead River.

The Re-evaluation found that the preferred alternative discussion in the FEIS and ROD did not adequately address environmental effects of reconstructing US 2 through Badrock Canyon (RP 140.1 to RP 141.2) on an alignment that minimized or totally avoided rock excavation near Berne Memorial Park. Since the Re-evaluation, additional information was identified regarding Native American cultural concerns in the area and potential impacts to a natural gas transmission pipeline. The Re-evaluation called for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to be prepared for this segment of the corridor.

Initial Planning Effort - Phase I:

In early 2011, the canyon community approached MDT regarding potential improvements to US 2 through Badrock Canyon. In lieu of preparing a SEIS at that time, MDT hosted an informational meeting on May 12, 2011 to determine if there was local interest in moving forward with a Corridor Planning Study. The Phase I effort was completed in June 2011. Issues of concern noted during Phase I included:

  • Safety
  • Threatened and Endangered Species
  • Wildlife Habitat and Connectivity
  • Historic Resources and Cultural Landscape
  • Water Quality
  • Fisheries
  • Bicycle / Pedestrian Access
  • Access to Glacier National Park
  • Buried Utility Lines
  • Section 4(f) Resources
  • Public Fishing Access
  • Wetlands
  • High Traffic Volumes and Congestion
  • Berne Memorial Park Access

MDT prepared a Phase I report summarizing the informational meeting held on May 12, 2011 and written comments submitted during the comment period from May 12 to May 20, 2011. The Phase I report is included in Appendix A to the Corridor Study Report, which is posted on the Documents page of this website.

Corridor Planning Study - Phase II:

Based on comments provided by members of the public during Phase I, MDT determined there was local interest in pursuing further analysis of the corridor. Phase II entailed completion of the corridor study process for the portion of the corridor from US 2 between RP 140.0 and RP 142.4 (the approximate intersection of US 2/6th Street West).