The ongoing Stevensville Safety Improvement project on the Eastside Highway will completely close a 4-mile portion of the road in the Bitterroot Valley next week. The Montana Department of Transportation will be replacing a crossing over Willoughby Creek. The road will be closed between Bell Crossing and Victor Crossing.

MDT officials said the large culvert will be replaced at Gib Strange Lane starting Wednesday, March 16, and crews will work around the clock to finish the work on a timeline that will reopen that section of road less than a week later - Monday, March 21, at 6 p.m. Jake North of Schellinger Construction said, "We appreciate the public's patience and will do what we can to wrap this up quickly and safely."

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Only local traffic will be allowed in the immediate construction zone, and they will need to use the Victor Crossing road as their only entrance and exit. Those drivers are asked to use extreme caution when they enter the construction zone.

The closure is part of a six-mile-long project that will create four-foot shoulders on the two-lane road and the roadside slopes will be improved. Willoughby Lane will be realigned from the intersection of Bell Crossing and the Eastside Highway. There will be a new flashing light installed at the intersection, too.

Crews will also be installing new guardrails, along with further bridge replacements and new signage. The traffic is expected to return to normal after completion early this summer. For more information and weekly updates, call the project hotline at 406 207-4484 during regular business hours Monday through Friday. You can also find information online at the Montana Department of Transportation.

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