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Category 4 - Rural Highways: Highways

Honorable Mention

U.S. Route 212, Beartooth Highway
Park County, Montana

The road curves gently to the left through a corridor of evergreens with mountains in the background. Wider shoulders, added pullouts, increased parking areas, and access improvements have enhanced safety and mobility and improved visitor experience.The Beartooth Highway, built in the early 1930s, is a 64-mile, two-lane alpine highway that crosses some of the most rugged mountains in the lower 48 States with peaks more than 12,000 feet high. The route, constructed as a long approach road to Yellowstone, crosses a huge plateau with alpine lakes, glacial-carved cirques and fragile tundra. Beartooth was designated a National Scenic Byway in 1989 and an All-American Road in 2002 by FHWA. The issues of this high-priority, interagency project included deteriorating pavement, base, and subgrade; inadequate drainage; inconsistent and dangerous roadway geometry; and insufficient roadway width. The challenges were complex due to hydrologic, geologic, and climatic issues combined with high elevations and a short construction season. The new drainage structures were not designed for normal hydrology due to the previous forest fires, but instead were designed to accommodate heavy debris flow such as logs and boulders. Segment 1 was completed on time, under budget, and without any lost time, accidents, or injured motorists; and presented an excellent example of how a highway can be widened, improved, and paved with minimal impact using a context-sensitive approach.

Beartooth Highway curves at the base of a rock slope with evergreen forests and rugged mountains in the background. In the early 1930’s, Beartooth Highway was constructed as a long approach road to Yellowstone.
Designers: Robert Peccia and Associates, Helena, MT and FHWA Western Federal Lands Highway Division, Vancouver, WA
Contractor: Rice-Kilroy, Dubois, WY
Owner: Yellowstone National Park

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Updated: 06/27/2017
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000