By Tim Leeds
Paving may soon start on the highway construction west of town, said Gary Berg, field project manager for the Montana Department of Transportation.
Berg said he hopes A-1 Paving of Kalispell, the company awarded the $5.7 million project last summer, will be able to start paving the section U.S. Highway 2 by the end of June.
The project was originally divided into three phases. Phase one included working on the highway from the junction with U.S. Highway 87 to the Second Street turnoff by the Big Kmart, phase two included the highway from the Second Street turnoff to 19th Avenue West by the Super 8 Motel, and phase three included work from 19th Avenue down the hill to Fleet Wholesale.
When erosion on the hill above the Hillside Trailer Court caused damage to the highway last fall, the original phases of the project had to be "kind of thrown out the window," said Berg.
Work had to be done to build a flatter slope and stabilize the slide to allow the public to safely use the highway. This caused the work on that section of the highway to be accelerated ahead of schedule.
The highway was reopened with a gravel surface to traffic over the winter, and construction began on the entire project again this spring.
Berg said they are actually ahead of schedule with the entire project.
The project is intended to widen and improve the three-mile section of Highway 2. The highway will be rebuilt and widened, reinforced to contain hillside drainage and erosion, and gutters, sidewalks and curbs will be installed.
The main entrance to the Holiday Village Shopping Center will be rebuilt in the construction. It will be aligned with 19th Avenue West, and a stoplight will be installed a the intersection.