Annette Hayden Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The community of Havre welcomed the start of the Montana Department of Transportation’s construction on U.S. Highway 2 this morning. Nelcon Inc.’s excavation equipment rolled away earth on the east end of town as Havre Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors held a ribbon cutting near 22nd Avenue. The celebration was attended by close to 75 local business people and residents. “I think this is wonderful,” said ambassador Devney Perry, co-chair of the Chamber’s ribbon-cutting committee. Perry moved to Havre two years ago from Great Falls. “I am excited to see new progress in Havre,” she said. The other committee members agreed. “This is going to be an interesting project,” said Chamber President Tom Rygg. “It will be great when it’s done, but there will be times when it is tough on some people.” Montana Highway Department Director Jim Lynch was unavailable for today’s welcoming of the project, but sent written communication to the citizens of Havre. “Friends and neighbors of the Havre community, today I have the opportunity to testify in front of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission,” Lynch wrote. “In my statement I will emphasize continued interest and investment in the existing network of Federal-Aid, including highways beyond the Interstate system in rural areas (of Montana). In his testimony, Lynch intended to highlight the rural concerns of economic vitality, such as transportation of agricultural Goods, tourism, system connectivity and funding for projects like US-2 Havre. “Today is a proud day for the MDT, the $28.9 million project is the largest infrastructure project event undertaken by MDT,” Lynch said. “This project is a major utilities project and far more than traditional road construction. Contracted by Nelcon Inc., this project will include extensive excavation for water, sewer and storm drain installation to alleviate flooding in downtown Havre. “The Department has worked with a variety of issues (on this project), some of which include preserving the historical Havre Beneath the Streets exhibit, creating parking for local business, the gutter and storm drainage system, curbs, sidewalks, crosswalks and period lighting for downtown. “This project will change the face of downtown Havre and enhance economic growth for local businesses and the surrounding community,” Lynch added. I look forward to celebrating the ribbon cutting of the completed project.” Nelcon Inc. president Mike White said he and his crew were extremely honored to have been chosen to be a part of the project. The first Nelcon-hosted public meeting to update the public on the project was held directly after the ribbon cutting at the Triangle Telephone meeting room. Close to 20 local business people attended and posed questions regarding operability during construction. White said site specific questions could be most efficiently answered by calling the construction field station in Havre at 265-1047, but that Nelcon intended to keep strong communication with business owners and the public throughout the duration of the project. Project manager Sam Weyers told meeting participants that the construction contract required that there be access to all businesses at all times, however, there will be times when that access is not the most convenient. Businesses with specific access concerns during construction in front of their facility should alert the field office. Another community concern was that of water availability during construction. Weyers said that, under the contract, water could be shut off in construction zones for a period of four hours. Mayor Bob Rice said he intended to make sure some water sources were available at all times. Rice also clarified that the parking lot being built at 12th Avenue and First Street was for use by all surrounding businesses and residents. “When I negotiated this project, the intent was for the parking lot to serve Sinclair, Nalivkas and the residents in the area, because there will not be street parking when the project is completed,” Rice said. Other community concerns, included local traffic diverting to Second Street. Rice said he is collecting statistics and will continue to observe traffic safety situations throughout the project’s progress. The next project update meeting will be at 9 a.m. Friday, April 27, in the Triangle Telephone meeting room. It will be the only Friday meeting. All other meetings will be held at 9 a.m. each Wednesday.