US Highway 191 near West Yellowstone draws thousands of drivers each year, many on their way to witness the beauty of Yellowstone National Park. Roads in this region are seeing increasing usage on top of wear-and-tear from harsh winters and frequent underground geologic activity. As a result, US Highway 191 between Big Sky and West Yellowstone has degraded, showing numerous cracks and potholes. It needs to be rehabilitated.
To ensure this roadway remains safe and smooth for the thousands of drivers on this route for years to come, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) will complete the Highway 191 – North of West Yellowstone project.
23 miles of roadway improvements will include:
- Creation of a northbound left turn lane at Rainbow Point Road
- Bridge crossing repairs over Specimen Creek and the Gallatin River
- Installation of new guardrail
- Road resurfacing
What to Expect
The project is split into two, with a roughly five-mile gap between construction areas: 1.) A turn lane will be constructed at Rainbow Point Road, north of West Yellowstone, to provide safer access for the growing communities along the roadway. 2.) The road will be repaved from Grayling Creek by US Forest Service Road 986 to Tepee Creek Trailhead by Elk Horn Ranch Road.
Work for both projects is expected to begin early May and last through August 2020. Traffic will be limited to one lane. Work on the turn lane at Rainbow Point Road will be slightly delayed until June to allow for bison herd migration in the spring. These timelines are all weather dependent.
Drivers can expect delays of up to 15 minutes in each construction zone from early May through August. Work is expected to occur in daylight hours, Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 5-minute delays should be expected during non-work hours.
Weekly updates are available throughout construction. To sign up:
- SMS Text Update: HIGHWAY191 to 41411
- Project hotline: 406-207-4484 during business hours
MDT recognizes that for many Montanans, our environment is key to our wellbeing. As part of each project, we identify ways to limit our impacts as much as possible. For this project, we are utilizing an environmentally-friendly technique called "hot-in-place recycling" to improve the road.
During the warmest months of the year, July and August, conditions are best for repaving. This process involves three main steps:
- Crews align equipment in a "train." The first driver manages a heater that heats the roadway to the point where the top layer becomes soft and removable.
- A second worker assists in removing the surface layer of asphalt. They mix it with rejuvenator which helps restore the asphalt to a like-new condition.
- The “caboose” works on laying the asphalt back down on the road, as if they were laying new asphalt.
This technique reduces the amount of mining needed and requires fewer asphalt trucks, making it more environmentally friendly. Crews use the existing asphalt and recycle it to prolong the life of the road. Through this recycling, we continue to keep good roads good and our state beautiful.