A section of Montana Highway 200 that makes up the quickest driving route between Missoula and Great Falls reopened Friday afternoon, after being closed since Tuesday due to flooding.
Shortly before 3 p.m. Friday, Lincoln Volunteer Fire Rescue posted on Facebook: "Rogers is open. Watch for rocks."
The road was closed down from Flesher Pass Road just east of Lincoln to the intersection with U.S. Highway 287 around 11 a.m. Tuesday due to a failing culvert that carries water beneath the roadway just east of Rogers Pass.
“The highway was sort of acting as a dam and built up quite a pond on the uphill side,” said Doug Wilmot, DOT District 3 administrator.
Wilmot said they are still not sure if floodwaters and sediment coming from the north around the Augusta area plugged up the culvert, or if the tunnel has more serious damage, and were working to get to the inlet of the pipe to find out.
Throughout the week, crews used three large pumps to try to drain the water that built up, but the only way to do that was to pump it across the highway, necessitating the road closure.
“Part of the issue is there is still a lot of water still coming in,” Wilmot said, adding that large forest fires in the area last summer mean the floodwaters are carrying a lot of sediment.
Crews worked Friday to complete the installation of a temporary culvert in the highway, which was to be covered by a gravel patch to allow drivers to go through the section of road again.
Until the road reopened, motorists trying to reach Great Falls from Missoula were better off driving to Helena then heading north from there on Interstate 15.
For the most up-to-date information, check the Department of Transportation’s live road conditions website.