061817-mis-nws-bypass-02 (copy)

Traffic moves around the Foys Lake roundabout on the Kalispell Bypass. The alternate route has helped ease traffic congestion in downtown Kalispell while spurring development to the north and south.

The newly completed Kalispell Bypass is up for a national award by the America’s Transportation Awards program.

The public can vote in the People's Choice category for the $140-million alternate route around Kalispell, which has been recognized by the ATA as a Top 12 finalist.

According to an announcement Monday, the bypass project will compete for national honors with the likes of an Arkansas bridge, an Iowa rail relocation, an Idaho interchange and a Virginia active traffic management system.

The 12 projects submitted by state transportation departments are up for a national grand prize and the People’s Choice award. The winner of each will receive a $10,000 check for a charity or transportation-related scholarship of the winners’ choosing. The grand prize will be determined by an independent panel of transportation industry experts. The People’s Choice award will be selected through online voting by the general public at americastransportationawards.org.

Voting is open and continues through Sept. 21. Winners will be announced Sept. 27 at the annual meeting of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in Phoenix.

The awards are a joint effort of AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The competition, in its 10th year, judges projects in categories of quality of life/community development, best use of technology and innovation and, new this year, operations excellence. The projects are also divided into three sizes: small for projects of less than $25 million; medium ($25 million to $200 million), and large (more than $200 million).

The Montana Department of Transportation’s Kalispell Bypass project qualified for the national award by winning a regional award.

ATA's online description reads, "After funding shortages and land acquisition difficulties that put the project on hold for years, MDT’s Kalispell Bypass-US 93 Alternate Route opened to traffic in October 2016. This new alternate route around Kalispell, which serves as a gateway to Glacier National Park and other natural attractions in the area, has cut travel time by more than 15 minutes for drivers. In addition, this $140 million alternate route has increased safety for drivers and allowed for a much more pedestrian friendly Main Street."

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Mineral County, Veterans Issues Reporter

Outlying communities, transportation, history and general assignment reporter at the Missoulian