MDT: U.S. Highway 2 paving won’t be until after Labor Day

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Traffic on U.S. Highway 2 could be downright miserable this summer as it's slated for reconstruction through the city.

Bob Vosen of the Montana Department of Transportation official told city leaders Monday that paving U.S. Highway 2 through the Columbia Falls won’t happen until after Labor Day.

That’s welcome news for businesses and residents who were worried the road work was going to start in late July and run through the summer. Having said that. MDT would like to see the paving done at night. It not only makes dealing with traffic easier, it makes for a betting surface, since there won’t be traffic on the new asphalt.

The city would have to approve the measure and the city council will likely take it up at next week’s board meeting. The city has already allowed for extended hours on the project from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The contractor will likely want to pour concrete for the new sidewalks later in the day as well, to avoid conflicts with businesses and traffic.

Vosen and other MDT officials sat down with city leaders to hash out the details on the planned road construction and to clarify the project’s scope, as there has been some misinformation of the project since it was first announced a few weeks ago.

Vosen said MDT expects the project, which will run from the Flathead River Bridge to North Hilltop will start Aug. 14. But the work will first center on sidewalks and curbing — there’s about a mile and half of sidewalk and curb work included in the project.

That will be the first of the work to start in August.

The existing sidewalks will remain the same width, but new sidewalks will be wider — 7.5 feet and the light poles will be taken out of the middle of the sidewalks and moved to the edge of the right-of-way.

MDT asked the city for set dates for festivals and other events that will be going on while construction is taking place so they can write them into the contract. That way the contractor knows to avoid the area at that time. For example, the Community Market is every Thursday at the Coop.

The later start might mean the project doesn’t get completed this year, however, Vosen warned. The roughly $3 million project is expected to take between 90 and 110 days, which would push it into mid-November, where snow becomes an issue.

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