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Tribe, county celebrate completion of Rocky Boy road and bridge projects


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Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]

The Hill County and Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation governments sponsored a celeb r a t i o n a t Ro c k y Boy Wednesday, focusing on projects that built a new bridge and paved miles of roads on the reservation. “It's made a significant difference for the people who live up in that area,” Rocky Boy's Director of Public Works Tim Rosette said this morning. One of the joint projects was building a new bridge over Sage Creek on Fresno Road about two miles west of Box Elder, a site that has been a long-time source of problems for the county. “That's one of our trouble spots for spring runoff,” Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said this morning. Rosette said a bridge had been on the road at one time, but it washed out and the county replaced it with a culvert. Because of the high level of water that runs through the creek during the spring runoff, it washed out regularly, he said. The county and the Rocky Boy governments came together in a joint project to replace the culvert With a bridge. The county paid $28,230.65 for environmental studies and the engineering for the project through a Treasure State Endowment Program grant. The tribal government then took that work and used it in an application to the federal Indian Reservation Roads Bridge Program and received $550,000 from that program to build the bridge, Rosette said. All work, on the bridge and on roads, is being done by Rocky Boy residents, he added. Rosette said that the Montana Depar tment o f Transportation has been essential in completing the projects, providing technical assistance to the tribe for the work. The two governments have been working on resurfacing and repaving or paving for the first time roads on the reservation. Rosette said the collaboration allowed about two-miles worth of the road going out to Bear Paw Ski Bowl to be surfaced last year, and this year the rest of the 5.3 miles of road was paved. The county chipped in $45,000 on the projects, part of the deal in building the bridge on Sage Creek. Rosette said the tribe spent about $400,000 to $500,000 on work this year, and the total expenditure over the last two years is about $800,000. Part of the work, and future construction, is being funded t h ro u g h t h e American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The tribe was awarded $2.3 million in ARRA funds for that work, he said. The road work, first authorized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has improved many sections of road on the reservation, Rosette said. An example was work done on Haystack Loop Road, which was nearly out of service. “If you drive on it today you would think you were on a brand-new road,” he said. Rosette said the work is improving the transportation, but may be creating another problem. People seem to be increasing their speed on the resurfaced roads, and that concerns him, Rosette said. “They're nicer, safer to drive on, but you still need to follow the speed limit and buckle your kids up,” Rosette said. “I don't care how good the road is, there is still a potential for accidents.” Bessette said the joint work between the two governments helped everyone. “It was a great project, I think,” she said. “Everybody gained. It was a win-win situation.”


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