'Waiting in line:' Highway 191 guard rail work causes delays in Big Sky traffic

MDT aims to improve traffic signal times
Posted at 7:29 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 15:59:55-04

BIG SKY — The Montana Department of Transportation is replacing 11 miles of guard rails along Highway 191, up Gallatin Canyon on the way to Big Sky.

Wednesday was Day 1 of the project and traffic was delayed for hours.

According to MDT, this construction project takes place over 11 miles of road, replacing guard rail essentially between Moose Flats Campground near Big Sky and Hellroaring Trailhead.

It’s one of the most scenic routes to Yellowstone and a heavily-traveled stretch of between Bozeman and Big Sky.

Orange cones and orange signs are starting to now dot 11 miles of it.

The Montana Department of Transportation started all of this Wednesday, aiming to replace guard rails along the entire stretch.

But, according to MDT district administrator William Fogarty, that work didn’t quite go as planned.

In a statement, Fogarty says wait times that were expected to only last about 15 minutes stretched on to over an hour; one driver reported over two.

Fogarty says this was due to high traffic volumes and not enough timing between red and green lights.

Travelers are making the best of the situation.

“Makes us do some, like, jumping jacks because we’re stressed out,” says Sarina Labra, on the way through 191 from Idaho.

Sarina and her friends found themselves stuck in the clog, too.

And two of them had somewhere special to get to.

“Yeah, I got a wedding to go to and I’m in it so hopefully it’s not too long,” says Alex Moorhead, riding with his fiance and Sarina.

“It’s his wedding,” Sarina adds.

The good news, there were no two-hour-long waits like Wednesday, something MDT recognizes.

Fogarty says the department is working hard to improve traffic signal timing and make wait times shorter.

The crews working on this project say they are still estimating for this to be all done by sometime in mid-November.

So while you are dealing with it now, be prepared, you’re going to be dealing with it for a while.

The construction along that stretch will take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every weekday until then.