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Missoula County, DOT reach agreement for road repair at Milltown State Park

Tamarack Road, leading to Milltown State Park, is in rough shape and in need of repaving and sealing. (Dave Stalling/Missoula Current)

For those headed to Milltown State Park east of Missoula, the ride’s about to get a bit smoother and easier thanks to a new agreement between the county and state. 

The Missoula Board of County Commissioners approved a construction, maintenance and funding agreement on Thursday with the Montana Department of Transportation to repave and seal Tamarack Road and Juniper Lane leading to the state park along the Clark Fork River near Bonner.

The agreement also establishes future responsibilities and duties of both the state and county in maintaining the road.   

“It’s a small amount of road, but well traveled,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “It provides access to a popular recreational resource, particularly during the ‘tube hatch’ in spring and summer when people are floating the river.” 

The road’s in rough shape, and there’s been a lot of complaints, Slotnick said. 

“It falls under the Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction — a state road but in Missoula County,” he said. “But’s it’s a super-low priority for the state, so they haven’t gotten to it. We’ve plowed and repaired it, but it’s in need of a major overhaul. So we offered a deal to the state: ‘You give us the supplies, and we’ll fix the road.’ ”

At first, the state was unresponsive. 

“This has been years in the making,” said Commission Chairman David Strohmaier. “The state didn’t have the wherewithal to maintain the road to the standards we would like, and in trying to reach an agreement, we were met with roadblock after roadblock.”

Eventually, Strohmaier said, he went to the top.

“I finally met with transportation director Mike Tooley and we came up with a good plan,” he said. 

The state will pay $150,000 for materials and supplies, and the county will do the work. 

“This is one piece of solving several problems we have out there,” Strohmaier said. “This should help ease some of the traffic and parking issues during the busiest times of year, and help improve access to the park.”