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Beyond roundabout construction on Van Buren Street, a portion of the existing I-90 bridge deck will be removed for sound wall installation. The bridge construction will result in westbound traffic being reduced to one lane into September.  

The roundabouts are ready for inbound traffic off the Van Buren Street exit ahead of the University of Montana Grizzlies football team's season opener at 7 p.m. Saturday. 

Now, it's up to drivers to know how to navigate them safely and properly.

"We've reached a good milestone,"  said Donny Pfeifer, construction operations engineer for the Montana Department of Transportation's Missoula district.

Pedestrian and biking traffic will have an open pathway ready on the east side of Van Buren Street. And the roundabouts themselves are at full functionality, Pfeifer said.

A substantial amount of work remains to install the sound wall panels, the westbound on-ramp, and retaining walls. Paving still needs to be done on the street north and south of the exit. 

The single-lane closure will remain in place over the weekend on I-90's westbound side through the Van Buren interchange; Pfeifer expects it will remain through most of September. 

While the Pearl Jam concert in August set crews up for a sort of test run on how to handle incoming traffic, Pfeifer said the temporary signals that were put in place then have been removed. 

MDT is currently looking at the end of October as a "substantial completion" date. 

To avoid any buildup around the Van Buren exit, Pfeifer suggested drivers use the exits at Orange and Reserve streets.

MDT said construction crews will not be working on Monday to avoid congestion during the holiday. 

Robert Vosen, Missoula District Construction Engineer, said in a statement that some areas of town are still very much under construction, and that drivers should plan accordingly. 

"The Labor Day holiday is one that many Montana residents and visitors enjoy by being on the road prior to the end of summer," he said. "While crews will be off of the roadways for the Missoula area projects, it's important to remember that these are still active construction sites and that all need to be mindful of changing conditions and posted signage. Slowing down and being alert are two of the best ways to ensure all have a safe holiday weekend."

While the Van Buren Street interchange is open to traffic, construction there is causing a lot of spillover traffic at the North Orange Street exit, MDT said. Drivers are advised to plan for extra travel time when using the North Orange Street exit. 

Construction at the Russell Street site will cease through the long weekend, as well, MDT said. 

Americans with Disabilities Act improvements on the east side of Higgins Avenue from Brooks to Fourth Street will also go on hiatus until Tuesday. Construction will resume at 7:30 a.m. and will cause some limited road closures. 

Construction on the Bonner Bridges project continues Tuesday, as well. The roadway will remain in a two-way configuration over the bridge with slower speeds in the work zone.

Traffic west of Missoula on I-90 has been moved to both sides of the interstate near the Huson East/Frenchtown Frontage Road project. The speed limit posted is 65 miles an hour. Construction will halt over the long weekend and resume on Tuesday. 

 Information on how to drive through roundabouts can be found at www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/vanburen. For more information on other projects, call MDT at (406) 207-4484.

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