Summer is a busy season for public works.
“They change from snow and ice control to pavement and preservation work,” City of Great Falls Public Works director Jim Rearden said.
And with the harsh winter, roads are needing some extra care.
“Right now, they are doing mill and overlay work. It strips the top part of the asphalt off and then they lay down fabric and two inches of new asphalt,” Rearden said. “They’ll be doing that for a week from now, and then they will switch gears and will be doing what we call chip seal for about ten days.”
Every year, crews do mill and overlay work for an average of 60 blocks within the city.
“I think they probably like the summer work because they can really see their accomplishments and what they are getting done. Although on 90-degree days working on hot asphalt is no picnic either,” Rearden said.
Most recently, public works completed a project that involved the rebuilding of Encino Drive; all thanks to a little help through a grant program.
“It’s an excellent deal for the city,” Rearden said.
The Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act passed through the legislature two years ago. The City of Great Falls has been granted $700,000 of which the city will match 5 percent.
“It’s really helping us get projects done that otherwise we would not be able to do,” Rearden said.
Rearden says the next phase of the project will involve water main replacement.
“We always wanted to be able to do that because we go to replace water main and, in the process, we basically dig up and replace a third or a half of the street section anyway. This way we are able to match some of the BaRSAA money with the street money with the water main work and completely rebuild the streets. Curb to curb,” Rearden said.
The funding comes through a state gas tax.
The next project is set to begin in the next couple of weeks.
“The next phase will be in the lower north side on 5th and 6th Avenue North between 3rd and 7th Streets. That’s great for us because we can go in and replace the infrastructure underneath and the road surface as well and everything is new,” Rearden said.
Rearden says although the work may cause headaches, it’s important to realize the long-term benefit.
“I know a lot of residents and motorists will run into our crews working. Just remember it’s an inconvenience at times but it’s necessary to keep our roadways in good condition,” Rearden said.