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  • Road maintenance projects planned for historic Idaho travelways

    Rocky road surface on the Lolo Motorway.

    Press Release

    July 21, 2022


    The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests will be conducting road maintenance work on the Lolo Motorway and Magruder Road beginning in August. Road surface reconditioning and culvert replacement is standard maintenance that improves drainage in the road corridors and reduces potential future impacts from runoff and heavy precipitation. This work will also provide an improved travel experience for visitors to the forest and help preserve the integrity of these historic travelways.


    The Lolo Motorway (Forest Service Road #500) on the forest’s Lochsa-Powell Ranger District and the Magruder Road (FSR #468) on the Red River Ranger District are both scheduled for maintenance work this summer as part of a multi-phase plan to maintain and preserve primitive adventure roads on the forest.


    “Road conditions on routes such as these have degraded to the point where it has become a challenge for even high-clearance or off-road vehicles to safely travel the roads,” said Acting Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Supervisor Marty Mitzkus. “With this roadwork, our goal is to continue to maintain access to these high-elevation, backcountry areas for present and future generations–without the loss of their primitive and historic character.”


    “Our objective is to restore the historic roads to a condition similar to what users saw during the Civilian Conservation Corps construction era of the 1930s; a mountain road that accommodated a great-grandparent’s Ford Model A,” explained Quentin Smith, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests staff officer overseeing engineering projects on the forest.


     

    Travelers to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests should be prepared to experience delays on both routes beginning in August as roadwork is underway.


    Lolo Motorway #500:


    Work on the Motorway is currently scheduled from August 8 through October 30. Delays of four hours or more should be expected between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (PDT) Monday through Friday while crews replace culverts, improve drainage, complete full depth reclamation, and spot surface the road. Work will take place between the 500 Road’s junction with Pete’s Fork (FSR #104) and Saddle Camp (FSR #107). There will be no roadwork or delays over weekends. Saddle Camp to the eastern end of the Lolo Motorway will be unaffected.


    Magruder Corridor #468:


    Magruder Corridor #468: Work is currently scheduled to begin August 1 with an end date to be determined. Delays of four hours or more should be expected between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (PDT) Monday through Friday while crews replace culverts, brush out the road, improve drainage, and spot surface the road. Travel will be impacted for 34 miles on the west end starting at the road’s beginning near Red River. There will be no roadwork or delays over weekends.


     

    Access to many high-elevation routes, including the Lolo Motorway and Magruder Corridor, has been unusually delayed this year due to heavy late-season precipitation and strong windstorms that resulted in increased windfall and late snow melt on forest roads. These unusual conditions have delayed contractors’ ability to begin this roadwork until August.


    “The Forest Service understands the impact that these delays will have on individuals visiting the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and looking forward to experiencing these historic travelways,” said Jennifer Becar, Public Affairs Specialist with the forest.


    “Unfortunately, contractors were unable to begin work on these roads until later in the season, the same way that recreationalists were delayed in being able to access and enjoy these routes. Our contract crews rely on the same access conditions as our visiting public.


    “Delays on these sections of the Lolo Motorway and Magruder Corridor are necessary for the safety of work crews and visitors during important maintenance projects that will result in better road and recreation conditions in future years,” said Becar.


    Another historic travelway on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is the Elk City Wagon Road, which runs 53 miles from Harpster to Elk City and offers an alternative adventure for those impacted by roadwork on the Motorway and Magruder. Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests visitors are also welcome to travel the Lolo Motorway and Magruder Corridor outside of the work areas while roadwork is underway, and pass through the construction areas outside of work hours.


    For the latest information about traveling on the forest, please stop by or call your local Forest Service office.