Havre Daily News
The Montana Department of Transportation is making plans to help Havre adjust to the U.S. Highway 2 construction set to start next year.
“The community needs to understand that it will be hard,” said Mick Johnson, Great Falls district administrator for MDT.
Johnson explained the department's plans Wednesday at a regular quarterly meeting with local city and county officials.
Johnson said the construction is the “largest urban project I have seen in Montana.” He said the improvements will include 33 blocks of total infrastructure reconstruction, including sewer lines, water lines, lighting and concrete, which will “completely change the face of Havre.”
MDT's goal is to get customers to businesses without having to cover their faces because of the dust and diesel fuel from the construction, Johnson said.
“When MDT is done and gone, I don't want empty storefronts,” Johnson said.
He said he hopes to award a contract for the highway project by January 2007. The design plans should be ready for evaluation next week.
A contract that gives contractors more money if the project is done earlier than scheduled or less if not done on schedule will be used to enhance their willingness to work overtime and in bad weather, he added.
MDT will use its radio signal at 1610 AM to provide the public with recorded construction information. A Web site is in development to update people about the construction and possible detours, which Johnson said will be primarily for trucking. The department will be working with a public relations firm on project updates and bring in a business expert to help local businesses adjust.
A project manager will hold a meeting with businesses once a week to discuss the construction. Johnson said MDT will hold a workshop for business people to go over their concerns.
Johnson said he wants residents to “think about guys here in town” and not “drive to Great Falls for a light bulb.” He added that Havreites should walk downtown if possible or car pool because parking will be limited during construction.
Johnson said that MDT will attempt to keep two lanes of traffic flowing as much as possible.
He said one of the benefits of the project is an “almost zero” chance of flooding because of improved drainage.