Rye Creek Road, south of Darby, which provides a primary access route to the vast public lands on the east side of the southern Bitterroot Valley and supports a diverse group of recreationists, hunters, firewood collectors and residents, along with forest and ranch traffic, is another big step closer to getting a major facelift.
Last April, the Ravalli County Road & Bridge Department, along with the Bitterroot National Forest, submitted a proposal to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to designate Rye Creek Road as a National Forest Highway, and another proposal to reconstruct and pave the road between U.S. Highway 93 and the North Fork Rye Creek Road, 5.4 miles in length. Over the summer, County Road Supervisor David Ohnstad and local Forest Service representatives participated in comprehensive review of the proposals with officials from the FHWA, the Montana Department of Transportation and the Forest Service Northern Region Office.
The Road & Bridge Department has been notified that the designation of Rye Creek Road as a Montana Public Forest Highway (MT PFH 102) has been approved, making it eligible for funding under the FHWA National Forest Highway program.
The Rye Creek Road improvement project, currently estimated at $5,547,055, has also been recommended for final approval and is currently programmed for construction in 2015. The Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the FHWA, which will administer the project, has developed a Project Identification Report which outlines the general scope of the improvements. The report is available for review at the Road & Bridge Department, 244 Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton.
An informational meeting on the project will be scheduled for later this spring.