North Fork Flathead Road Corridor Study logo

Secondary 486 (S486) is a major collector on the Montana Secondary Highway System and serves as the north-south corridor between Columbia Falls and Polebridge. S486 is also referred to as the North Fork Flathead Road (NFFR) and Forest Highway 61. View study map

Flathead County, in partnership with MDT, conducted a corridor study for the roadway section from the intersection of S486 and Blankenship Road north of Columbia Falls (approximate Reference post 9.5) to the junction with Camas Creek Road (approximate Reference post 22.7). The corridor consists of both paved and gravel surfacing. The width of the roadway varies from 24 to 36 feet. The entire corridor study area is within the Flathead National forest and adjacent to Glacier National Park. The study was completed summer 2010.

Final Study Documents
complete document (20.7 mb)

Study by section
Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Existing Conditions
Consultation and Coordination, Public Involvement
Improvement Options Development and Funding Mechanisms
Corridor Study Conclusion

A: Consultation and Coordination, Public Involvement
B: Environmental Scan Report
C: Improvement Options

The purpose of the study was to gather information from the public to identify options and consensus, if any, to improve driving conditions and the surrounding environment. The corridor study evaluated the feasibility of improving the corridor, including assessing a range of low-level safety or maintenance-type improvements to consideration of major reconstruction. The intent of the study is not to identify a specific project, but to give Flathead County options to consider in future planning on the NFFR, if public consensus exists.

The study provided a basic description of the environmental setting. This consisted of preliminary identification of potential improvements (including funding options and phasing), management strategies, and environmental impacts and mitigation. The consultant followed the Montana Business Process to Link Planning Studies and NEPA/MEPA Reviews,which requires extensive public outreach and coordination with other partnering agencies. Issues addressed within the corridor included but were not limited to:

  • threatened or endangered species
  • public sentiment
  • safety
  • wildlife
  • air quality (roadway dust)
  • water quality
  • fisheries
  • wild and scenic rivers
  • serving as access to Glacier National Park

partnership between Flathead County and MDT