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Decades In The Making, Kalispell Bypass Now Open

The Kalispell Bypass opened Friday, October 28, ahead of schedule and under budget.
Montana Department of Transportation
The Kalispell Bypass opened Friday, October 28, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Driving the length of the Flathead Valley got a little easier Friday. The Kalispell Bypass along Highway 93 is finished. 

With the cut of a ribbon, Governor Steve Bullock and members of Montana’s Washington delegation opened the bypass that many think will revitalize Kalispell’s downtown. The $140 million project was decades in the making, but opened Friday ahead of schedule and under budget.

Standing on the entrance ramp to the eight-mile stretch of new road, Governor Bullock pointed to new housing developments on Kalispell’s south end and new retail shops on the north side that have already sprung up in anticipation of the bypass.

"The long-term economic benefits are already starting to show," Bullock said.

Flanked by Senator Jon Tester, Representative Ryan Zinke and a host of transportation department and local officials, he said the bypass was possible thanks to bipartisan cooperation.

"Transportation and highway infrastructure projects like this bypass strengthen our communities and strengthen our economy," Bullock said.

Nearly 200 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, many of them eager to take a spin on the new pavement.

Willie Steele of Kalispell drove his mom Laura in their 1934 Ford Hot Rod.

"Getting ready to do a burnout. just kidding … checking out the new road, that’s all we’re doing," Steele said.

They led a steady stream of vehicles around the bypass’s roundabouts.

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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