Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
With a new face on 5th Avenue, area residents should get a break from detours and traffic complications due to street reconstruction in Havre. “With the exception of chip sealing and striping that will be done next spring, (we are done,)” said Gary Berg, project manager for the 5th Avenue work that was completed this week. The work on 5th Avenue started on the tail end of a two-year project to completely rebuild U.S. Highway 2 where it passes through Havre as 1st Street. The 5th Avenue work, which started in August, included building crosswalk entrances into the sidewalks that are accessible for people with physical disabilities, pouring some new curbs, gutters and sidewalks, and resurfacing the avenue and creating turning lanes throughout its length. The creation of turning lanes also eliminated most of the onstreet parking north of 11th Street. The only onstreet parking in that section of the avenue is now between 1st and 2nd streets south of the 1st Street stoplight and between 4th and 5th streets by City Hall and Van Orsdell Methodist Church. The onstreet parking resumes south of 11th Street by the 5th Avenue Taco John’s and continues through the southern portion of the avenue. Berg said the nature of the work in the last week, grinding off the edges of the avenue, resurfacing and waiting for the pavement to cool then painting the lanes, caused delays and complaints. The prior work on 1st Street, which allowed for more continual traffic and access during the project, seemed to cause less stress, he said. “We got a lot more complaints in three days of paving on 5th than we did in two years on 1st Street ,” Berg said. “It’s just the nature of that particular operation, I guess.” Some aspects of the work on 1st Street are still causing some issues, he said. One is the operation of the leftturn lanes for people turning from 1st Street onto 5th Avenue and from people turning from 1st Street onto 7th Avenue and the viaduct. The eastbound turning lane onto 7th and the westbound turning lane onto 1st previously had a guaranteed leftturn arrow. The system now does not always turn that arrow on, Berg said. Now the left-turn arrows in those 1st Street intersections only come on if people are in the left-turn lane long enough before the light changes. A detector has to register the vehicles in the lane, and if they enter the lane shortly before the light changes, the left-turn arrow will not come on. Berg said drivers need to watch and make sure the arrow is on before they turn in front of oncoming traffic, or else wait for the traffic to clear. Another area of confusion is in the northbound lanes at the intersection of 1st Street and 5th Avenue, Berg said. Before two years’ of work to rebuild 1st Street, the center northbound lane was for left turns and for driving straight through the intersection, while the easternmost lane was for right turns only. Now the lanes are marked with the center lane for left-turns only, while the easternmost lane is for right turns and a through lane. But, Berg said, if there are vehicles over the markings in the lanes, some drivers are not realizing the configuration has changed. People are driving north in the center lane, sometimes while other vehicles are also driving north in the east lane. Berg said MDT is going to change the configuration back, with the center lane designated for driving north through the intersection and for left turns. The department is waiting for new signs to arrive to install them and repaint the markings in the lane, he said. “It’s confusing and we have had some near misses, so we are changing it,” Berg said. He said the final touches on 5th Avenue will wait until next year. The paint on the avenue now is not permanent, but will be replaced with an epoxy paint next spring after the chip sealing is complete, he said. There are no major projects planned in Havre in the near future, he said. The next major project for Havre is the work to rebuild and reconfigure U.S. Highway 2 from where it enters Havre to about 10 miles east of Havre. That project is now in the design stages, Berg said.