MDT will kick off two major projects in Glendive next week

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Next week will see the commencement of two major and long-anticipated street construction projects in the heart of Glendive, as work to rebuild North Meade Avenue and to reconfigure East Towne Street from a four-lane to a three-lane street will begin in earnest on April 15.

NORTH MEADE AVENUE

PROJECT

The project on North Meade — long a bane of local drivers with its heavily pothole-marked surface — will include the first seven blocks of the street from its intersection with Towne to Slocum Street. The first four blocks from Towne to Dodge streets will be completely reconstructed, while the last three blocks from Dodge to Slocum will receive an overlay.

Montana Department of Transportation District 4 administrator Shane Mintz noted there really wasn’t a need to completely reconstruct the last three blocks of the project, as that section of Meade was already rebuilt a couple of years ago when the city had to tear it up in order to replace the sewer and water lines beneath it.

Mintz said that helped lower the project costs.

Another change to the original plan for Meade brought on by costs is that the project will not include reconstruction of all the sidewalks in the project area.

“The bids for the project came in significantly higher than we had anticipated,” Mintz said. “So we ended up eliminating all the sidewalks from the project except the corners.”

All the sidewalk corner curb ramps within the project area will be replaced with ADA-accessible ramps, as Mintz noted that “almost none of them are” currently ADA-accessible.

Along with new curb and gutter where needed, the other major portion of the Meade project is the replacement of the city’s water and sewer mains along the length of the project. The city is not only replacing the old mains with new ones, but upgrading them to a larger size, from the existing 6-inch lines to 12-inch lines. Glendive Public Works Director Jack Rice noted that the contractor will be running temporary water lines to residents in the affected area while construction is ongoing.

The Meade Avenue project is being funded through the Urban Transportation Program, for which the city can borrow out up to five years worth of its Urban Transportation funding. However, since the project bids came in higher than expected, the city had to go before the state Highway Commission to ask for an exception to borrow out to 10 years on their Urban Transportation funding.

Both Mintz and Rice noted that the Dawson County Commissioners “had to give up” their potential five-year program borrow in order for the exception to be made for the city, and Rice expressed gratitude to the commissioners for agreeing to do so. Ultimately the Highway Commission also agreed to make an exception so the project could move forward. Mintz noted the city had looked at “downsizing” the project further beforehand to cut costs, but said that proved “problematic considering the water and sewer lines that needed to go in.”

Rice said he is just relieved the Highway Commission granted the exception and the project can move forward this year as planned.

“The city has been promising residents on Meade this for a long time, and I was about ready to buy a bullet-proof jacket if it didn’t get done,” Rice said.

TOWNE STREET PROJECT

In conjunction with the city’s Meade project, MDT will be undertaking the reconfiguration of Towne Street from its intersection with Merrill Avenue to the bridge. The street will be reconfigured from its current four-lane configuration to a three-lane — two driving lanes with a center turn lane.

Towne will also receive a mill and overlay, upgrades to its sidewalks and curb ramps to make them ADA-accessible and new traffic signals at every intersection. Other changes include curb “bulb-outs” at the intersections with Meade and Kendrick, construction of a “pork-chop island” at the Douglas intersection to prohibit left turns onto Towne, and improvements at the intersection with Merrill to improve the turning radius for trucks.

Steve Heidner, MDT project engineer for the Towne Street project, said the end result of the changes on Towne will be a roadway that’s significantly safer for both motorists and pedestrians, with improved parking and better signage.

“Really the big benefit is I think the traffic flow will be safer. You won’t have that race to the bridge,” Heidner said.

“We’re adding some pretty big improvements for pedestrians on Towne,” Mintz added.

During the construction on Meade and Towne, drivers can expect delays and other inconveniences. Mintz said MDT is “not really anticipating” a need to ever shut down the Towne Street Bridge during the project, but cautioned that drivers should “expect delays” at the bridge at certain times.

On Meade specifically, residents need to immediately move any vehicle or trailer parked along the street, Rice noted. Several blocks of Meade at a time can also be closed to thru traffic during construction, though local residents will still be allowed access to their homes.

“They can close up to three blocks at a time, and it sounds like that’s what they’re going to do,” Mintz said.

The inconvenience will last through the fall, though Mintz noted MDT is “expecting this to be a one-season job,” so both projects should be completed by the end of September to early October.

At the end of it, Towne will be a much different but safer roadway and city residents who have long complained about the lousy condition of Meade will finally have a solution they have long hoped for.

“The city is getting an urban route that’s going to be an excellent roadway once it’s done,” Mintz said.

Reach Jason Stuart at dcedc@midrivers.com.

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