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Bonner Bridge file

A construction crew works on one of the new bridge piers for Interstate 90 over the Blackfoot River in this 2018 file photo. Work on the project was set to resume April 15.

Prep work started Monday on a nine-mile stretch of Interstate 90 in Mineral County for a construction project that won’t be completed until summer 2020.

The St. Regis East project will restrict I-90 traffic to one lane in each direction and reduce speed limits in the construction zone. It begins 1½ miles east of St. Regis and ends roughly 5 miles west of Superior near the Dry Creek Road Interchange (Exit 43).

Crews are out this week putting crossovers in place, said Brandon Coates of RBCI, public outreach consultant for the Montana Department of Transportation.

Concrete pavement will be resurfaced, shoulders repaired and Sloway Road interchange ramps at Exit 37 will be repaved.

“Interstate 90 is an important transportation corridor for local communities, the state, as well as the nation,” MDT project manager John Benda said. “This project will improve roadway conditions and extend the life of the pavement by 10-15 years.

They’ll do it with a “Dowel Bar Retrofit,” a technique that has been used successfully throughout the country on concrete road surfaces. Metal rods are inserted into the concrete at the paving joints to add strength and durability. When that’s finished, the surface of the concrete is milled smooth to improve the ride.

In a separate project, traffic will be altered at a crossing of the Clark Fork River just east of the Dry Creek Road interchange as bridges there are rehabilitated beginning with the westbound lane. 

To sign up for construction email updates text REGIS to 42828. Updates can also be found at mdt.gov/projects

Pavement preservation

A pavement preservation project is planned to launch in June that spans from the Wye through Missoula to the Van Buren interchange. It's slated to run throughout the summer as weather permits. 

"This project will mostly be performed at night, with careful planning to avoid impacting heavy travel volumes on the interstate during daytime hours," said Sarah Knobel of Big Sky Public Relations. 

East of Missoula, the Bonner Bridges project over the Blackfoot River will resume April 15, weather permitting. Last year the eastbound interstate bridge was rebuilt to eliminate a pier in the river. This time it'll be the westbound bridge and removal of both center piers. Expect decreased speeds from the Bonner interchange to just past the second bridge deck. 

Knobel said the first of periodic river closures will begin April 17. The closure of the Blackfoot River spans from the Weigh Station to Milltown State Park at the confluence of the Clark Fork River. Closures are intended to protect floaters and other recreational users from hazards related to the construction.

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Mineral County, veterans issues

Outlying communities, transportation, history and general assignment reporter at the Missoulian