The Montana Department of Transportation will soon begin updating 11 miles of guardrails along U.S. Highway 191 in Gallatin Canyon, reducing travel to one lane in some areas with expected delays of up to 15 minutes.

Work will begin mid-August near the Moose Creek Flat Campground and will continue north along the Gallatin River until mid-November when it will end near the Hellroaring Trailhead. Construction will take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays and require the closure of one lane.

“We know that this road is a major commuter route, so every effort is being made to limit work zone lengths and to limit lane closures to non-peak hours,” said William Fogarty, a construction engineer for the Montana Department of Transportation.

The project will replace guardrails on U.S. Highway 191 with taller ones made of stronger material. The project will also stabilize the ground surrounding the guardrails to limit erosion and ensure it can withstand impact.

The transportation department received about $1.6 million from the federal government for the project.

The guardrail improvements are part of a transportation department effort to reduce crashes along the highway. Between 2009 and 2013 — the most recent years with data available — there were 39 single-vehicle crashes in which the vehicle left the road. In 26 of those, a guardrail or other object stopped the vehicle, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

“Over the years, guardrail in the area has prevented several vehicles from entering the river,” Fogarty said. “However, this safety feature is very old and has outlived its original purpose.”

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com. Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

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