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4 for 2 seeks HavreÃ


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One stretch of U.S. Highway 2 near the North Dakota border is being rebuilt as a four-lane highway. Now the president of the group working to make the entire 600-plus miles of the road four lanes is hopeful that a stretch closer to home will soon see the same change. The 10-mile stretch of road runs from Havre to near the landfill in Blaine County, said Bob Sivertsen, president of the Highway 2 Association. At Tuesday's City Council meeting, the association will ask for Havre's support to revisit an environmental impact statement that was completed several years ago. The issue is one that Mayor Tim Solomon brought up frequently in his campaign, saying that four-lanes will bring economic development and more traffic through Havre on its way to the Port of Wild Horse north of town. "(Montana Department of Transportation is) looking at doing some work anyhow, and we're just asking them to revisit what they're going to be working on," Solomon said. The expansion is something he still Supports, he said. "It's just great that the group's still working so hard on it. They're still out there working very hard for the communities," he said. Sivertsen also said that a four-lane highway would increase economic development on the Hi-Line and create jobs that would keep youth near home. "It's the most important thing that could happen to the Hi-Line," he said. He will seek the support of the Hill County Commission and Blaine County government entities, too, he said. Eighty percent of businesses locate in areas with adequate transportation, he said, and a two-lane highway doesn't cut it. "We've never had the opportunity that we have right now in this No. 2 corridor," he said, because of various types of trucking that use Highway 2, including oil, gas and fertilizers. Increased traffic on the highway running goods between Canada and the United States could also lead to a 24-hour port at Wild Horse, he said. "We're sitting at the gateway to all this activity," he said. The impact could reach all the way to Texas, he added, where oil rig equipment is manufactured and then transported to Canada. In an earlier proposal, a stretch of the highway from Havre to Fort Belknap was considered for expansion to four lanes, but due to problems near Harlem discovered through an environmental impact study near Harlem, the proposal never became reality, he said. The problems, concerning wetlands, the Milk River and irrigation, led the EIS to recommend that an improved twolane highway be built instead of four lanes, he said. Now, the highway department is going to look at improving 10 miles of road east of Havre, and Sivertsen said it would be ideal to make it four lanes. No problems existed in the first EIS for those 10 miles, he said. "We know we can't build this four-lane all at once," and some is better than none, he said. Delays are bad, but settling for enhanced two-lanes when there is the possibility for four is worse, Sivertsen said. If the effort isn't done now, the same economic development issues will exist still 20 years from now, he said. Also during their meeting Tuesday, City Council members will vote whether to approve contracts for public works and police department employees. The contracts include the city's agreement to a wage survey to be conducted, which will show Havre's employees' wages compared to other first class cities in Montana. A cost-of-living increase also is included. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in City Hall.


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