Spring green is coming to Montana, which means the orange tint of construction season isn't far behind.
This week the Montana Department of Transportation, through its partners at Big Sky Public Relations, sent out early notice of road and bridge projects planned for the Missoula area in 2019, even before some construction schedules are finalized.
Most are carryovers for 2018, the busiest this valley has seen in years.
Two new ones will launch in June, both involving nighttime work to avoid the heaviest traffic. Missoula's Riverside Contracting has an Interstate 90 pavement preservation project from the Wye to the Van Buren Street interchange. L&J Construction Group of Ennis will be building a concrete barrier rail on Reserve Street between River Road and Mullan Road.
The I-90 work will run throughout the summer. L&J should finish the Reserve Street project in August. It's intended to decrease the number of crashes that occur on that stretch of Reserve Street over the bridge. Work will be scheduled for 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Here's a look at the five other projects:
• The largest and most impactful is the so-called Russell Street Broadway to Dakota project. Dick Anderson Construction of Helena should have the first (east) section of a new Russell Street Bridge good to go by the end of April, MDT spokesperson Katie Klietz said Monday. Two-lane traffic on the old bridge will then be diverted to the new side.
Construction of the west section of the bridge is anticipated to be finished by the end of this year, as are trail connections along the Russell Street corridor. Sidewalks will be constructed this summer, and a signal light will be installed at the Wyoming Street intersection.
Knife River-Missoula is responsible for road construction on the Russell Street project in an expedited design-build arrangement with Dick Anderson and MDT.
• The Missoula ADA project, which began last spring south of the river, will resume in early April. Work starts at the corners of Higgins Avenue and West Main and Front streets in downtown and will move north up Higgins before spilling out to West and East Broadway. A progression map and other information are available on MDT's website.
Improvements will occur on several heavily trafficked sidewalks to bring greater accessibility to Broadway and Higgins. Lane closures, decreased speeds and pedestrian detours will be experienced downtown. Missoula’s WGM Group and Knife River expect to wrap it all up in July.
• Final work on the Van Buren Street interchange will also begin as soon as weather permits. The twin roundabouts have been in full operation since fall. Remaining work by Knife River entails chip sealing and striping, median and sidewalk improvements, as well as trail connections and landscaping.
“We’re really working to get that schedule down, but it won’t (start) until a little later when it’s warmer,” said spokeswoman Sarah Knobel. “Some of it is fully weather dependent.”
• Huson East, a.k.a. the Frenchtown Frontage Road, has seen excavation work throughout the winter, and Columbia Falls-based Schellinger Construction has been performing stabilizing work on the slide near the Frenchtown Irrigation Ditch. Traffic controls are in place and signal lights will be installed on either side of the slide area.
“We have about a mile and a half of the shared-use path left to complete and that will be taking place soon,” Klietz said.
Paving, a chip seal, final striping and landscaping will probably launch in late April, with the entire 11-mile project stretching from Huson to U.S. Highway 93 north of the Wye completed by July.
• It’s the final year of MDT’s two-year, $15 million Bonner Bridges project. Last year the Helena-based engineering firm Morrison Maierle and Frontier West LLC of Missoula rebuilt the eastbound I-90 bridge at the mouth of the Blackfoot River in the Bonner Bridges. Work is set to resume in early to mid-April to start on the westbound span, though the starting date is heavily weather dependent.
Traffic both ways will again be reduced to two lanes, this time in the new eastbound lane. As in 2018, a speed zone between the Bonner-Milltown interchange at Exit 110 and the east end of the second bridge deck will be in place throughout the construction season. Blackfoot River closures are planned for May and in late summer to protect floaters and other recreational users from construction-related hazards. In addition, periodic closures will take place throughout the summer.