Bureau of Land Management offices along the Hi-Line are warning drivers to be cautious when traveling secondary roads en route to or on BLM-managed lands, due to damage caused by a recent multi-day rain event.
Preliminary assessments by BLM personnel of Phillips and Valley counties’ non-paved roads on or en route to BLM-managed lands revealed a range of damage and dangerous situations. Here's a look.
According to Glasgow BLM Field Manager Pat Gunderson, there are several damaged roads within south Valley County. The two main BLM-maintained roads, Beaver Branch and Triple Crossing Access Roads, are damaged in several spots. Beaver Branch is passable but has several spots where parts of the road are washed away. The Triple Crossing Access Road is not passable at Triple Crossing Dam, which is in the process of being reconstructed. Both roads have been over-topped by the runoff from the rain in several spots. Willow Creek Bridge was overtopped during the runoff but is open.
All major dams in south Valley County were impacted through the spillway. Erosion of spillways is varied, with some holding and others having extensive erosion. Gunderson reported there will need to be a great deal of road work, culvert replacement, and spillway repair into the summer of 2015.
“Despite this being a record event, the quality of the design and construction of the dams and roads in this area prevented catastrophic failure of a significant amount of infrastructure in south Valley County,” said Gunderson.
Vinita Shea, field manager of BLM’s Malta Field Office, reported staff members have been attempting to assess road damage, but access is an issue.
“We know that many roads in Phillips County have damage, but we haven’t been able to assess all the damage yet and encourage the public to be diligent and safe in their travels,” said Shea.
Damage to the Alder Gulch and Pony Gulch Roads in the Little Rockies has been confirmed. The Regina and Sun Prairie Roads have been closed by the Phillips County Road Department. Hazardous areas have been marked along the Content Road. Dry Fork Road is open and has been maintained by the BLM since the multi-day rain event.
The BLM would like to remind the public that safety is important. Many washouts are not yet marked, and travel is dangerous at night. Drivers are advised to avoid traveling back roads at night, if possible. If nighttime travel is necessary, drivers should proceed with caution and at reduced speeds.
Road condition assessments along the Hi-Line are still ongoing at this time and are being hampered by damaged roadways. For the most current information, call please call the appropriate BLM Field Office in your area: the Glasgow Field Office at (406) 228-3750 or the Malta Field Office (406) 654-5100.