The Rye Creek Road, which intersects US 93 south of Darby, has been designated a Montana Public Forest Highway.
The designation makes it eligible for grants to improve the route, which is about 5 1/2 miles long between US 93 and North Fork Rye Creek road. Such a grant has been recommended for final approval, which would lead to a paving project in 2015. The cost is currently estimated at about $5.5 million.
Over the summer, Ravalli County Road Supervisor David Ohnstad and Bitterroot National Forest officials reviewed a number of proposals with the Montana Department of Transportation and the Forest Service Northern Region office. The Rye Creek project was one of those proposals.
The road leads to public lands on the east side of the valley for recreationists, hunters, firewood collectors, along with ranch traffic.
The Western Federal lands Highway Division will administer the project and an informational meeting will be scheduled in the Darby area this spring.