A road project closely related to, but separate from, construction on U. S. Highway 2 east of Havre is complete, and the new landfill it connects with could be open within a few weeks.
Clay Vincent, Hill County sanitarian and planner, said this morning that the road connecting U. S. Highway 2 to the new tri-county landfill has been resurfaced, and once work on the new site is complete and the equipment can be moved from the existing landfill, the new operation can begin.
The road work, which hooks the landfill to Highway 2 via a new connection built during the Montana Department of Transportation project upgrading the highway, included paving the northernmost section of the road and putting a mix of highway millings and gravel on the remainder. It was paid by the Unified Disposal Board that operates the landfill in Hill County.
The work was done despite an ongoing lawsuit alleging the county — and thus the Unified Disposal Board, which operates the trash pickup and disposal in Hill, Blaine and northern Chouteau counties — has no right to use the road.
The lawsuit, filed by American Wind & Wheat Farms LLC, owned by George Powers, claims that the county never legally created the road, and allowed the road to fall into disrepair and therefore would have abandoned it even if it had done so.
Powers’ company owns land through which the road runs.
Powers filed the lawsuit against Hill County in early August last year. This year, on July 8, he filed a request for the judge to stop work on the road.
In its reply, the county argued that the road had been legally created, that a request early last century to close it was denied, and that it had been in use as a regular roadway since created.
Powers withdrew his request for an injuction Sept. 9, requesting a scheduling conference be set and a trial scheduled for early next year.
Judge Dan Boucher set a scheduling conference for Oct. 6.
Meanwhile, the work has progressed on the site.
Vincent said paving the first quarter-mile off the highway, up the first hill south of Highway 2, was done to try to reduce problems such as washboarding, common on gravel roads with heavy traffic.
The rest of the road was surfaced using a mix of gravel and millings coming from the work on Highway 2. Vincent said that should reduce the amount of dust coming from the road.
“We have to make that road a 24-7, year-round road, ” he added. “It has to hold up whether it’s bright and sunny or snowy or muddy. ”
He said there is some work to complete fencing and some other finishing work at the new dump site, which was selected due to the configuration of the land under the site.
The existing landfill was created in the 1980s. After the Environmental Protection Agency changed regulations in the 1990s, officials have said the pits in that site will have to be lined to prevent seepage into the ground and the groundwater.
The engineer who studied the area for the disposal board said the site just east of Havre will prevent seepage and would not need the liners. He said that will save the users of the landfill $35 million over the life of the site.
Once the finishing work is complete, and the opportunity arises to move the equipment, the new site should be open, Vincent said.
“We’re, hopefully, within a few weeks of getting it opened up, depending on the weather and how much garbage comes in, ” he said.