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After a busy winter season, Hyalite Canyon Road will close to vehicle traffic starting Thursday.

The road will be closed through May 15 to allow for snow to melt. Vehicle traffic during the spring thaw can cause surface cracking and potholes on the road, according to a press release from the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

Roadbed materials get saturated this time of year as snow melts, said Bozeman District Ranger Corey Lewellen.

“It’s a really wet area,” he said.

Hyalite Road Closure

A SUV drives up Hyalite Road on March 30, 2021. Hyalite Road will be closed from April 1 to May 15.

Hyalite Canyon has seen record use of late: Vehicle counts taken this past summer show an increase of up to 20% in traffic each month compared to the previous year, according to the Forest Service.

Vehicle traffic this winter far outpaced the summer’s increase. The number of vehicles going up the canyon increased 32% in December 2020 from December 2019 and 67% in January 2021 compared to January 2020.

Hyalite will still be open for non-vehicle activity. The road becomes popular this time of year for mountain bikers and walkers without vehicle traffic, Lewellen said.

Road construction will have some impact on recreation both during the spring closure and the summer months.

Construction on a retaining wall about half a mile past the lower gate may cause lane closures and occasional delays. Work could start during the road closure if conditions are dry enough, but it will be an ongoing project during the summer, Lewellen said.

Construction on the road will resume this summer, according to the press release. The road above the dam is expected to remain open, but with frequent traffic lights and delays of up to 20 minutes expected during the summer months.

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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