Road crew breaks gas mainline near downtown Hamilton

Two Hamilton businesses were evacuated and traffic diverted after an excavator hit a 6-inch natural gas mainline just north of downtown Hamilton in late June.

PERRY BACKUS, Ravalli Republic

HAMILTON – The city of Hamilton is spending more than $3 million to upgrade infrastructure this summer.

The most visible project is the $380,000 road reconstruction occurring on the first block of Fairgrounds Road.

Hamilton Mayor Jerry Steele said that section of road has been deteriorating for some time.

“Everyone knows how bad it was,” he said.

The plans call for bringing the road up to current city standards and to add a sidewalk along the south side of BJs Restaurant.

The funding for the project came from city coffers.

“They are talking right now about paving in the middle of July,” Steele said. “By the end of July, it should be pretty well finished.”

The project did hit a snag last week when a backhoe cut into a main gas line. Steele said it appears that the gas line wasn’t marked correctly.

“It’s fixed now,” he said. “We’re continuing to move forward.”

The city has plans to add some more sidewalks on the south side of the road. Engineering is expected to happen this summer, with construction getting underway next summer, if everything goes as planned, Steele said.

The city will remain focused on upgrading Fairgrounds Road over the next few years. Steele said plans call for turn lanes and other improvements to help with traffic flow.

“It’s one of the busiest, if not the busiest road in Ravalli County,” Steele said. “By the time we’re done, we will have invested well over $2 million.”

City crews are also busy on a $1.4 million project to tie the city’s well No. 5 into the well farm near the Head Start complex.

The well produces an estimated 500 gallons of water per minute.

“It will help us, especially with our fire flow,” Steele said.

Currently, well 5 is basically a backup for irrigation that’s used only in the summer months. Once the Kurtz Lane project is complete, its water will be available to the city year round.

The city was able to acquire a $100,000 grant to help offset the cost. The rest of the funding came from city coffers.

That project is expected to be completed in October or November.

The last major project occurring this summer is the addition of ultraviolet disinfectant equipment at the city’s sewage plant.

The $1.2 million project was mandated in the city’s discharge permit issued by the state, Steele said.

The city was able to acquire about $800,000 in grant monies to help offset the cost.

“Once this is installed, we will be able to stop using chlorine,” Steele said. “It should, over time, reduce the costs we are paying for chlorine. Every little reduction in cost helps.”

The city attempts to complete as many upgrades to its infrastructure as possible every year, Steele said.

“We do as many projects as we can with the money we have,” he said.

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

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