HELENA – Drivers traveling south of downtown Helena will need to take a detour starting Tuesday, as crews begin a nearly monthlong closure of West Main Street.
Helena Sand and Gravel says the road will be completely closed to traffic July 10 through Aug. 8, between Reeders Village Drive and the intersection of Grizzly Gulch and Oro Fino Gulch. Workers will be installing five-foot diameter reinforced concrete pipes along the length of the project area to improve stormwater drainage.
Drivers who want to get to the Grizzly Gulch and Oro Fino Gulch areas will have to take Davis Gulch Road and Arrastra Gulch Road to get around. Project manager Solomon Redfern estimates the detour will add about 15 minutes of driving time.
Redfern said the storm drain work will begin near Reeders Village, and workers will make their way south. Residents on West Main Street will need to use the detour to reach their homes, until the installation in front of their property is finished.
The closure is the latest step in an extensive reconstruction project on West Main Street. The road has been down to a single lane of travel for about two months, and drivers have seen delays of up to 20 minutes.
Redfern said traffic through the project area has slowed down since work began. He believes some people are already taking the detour.
The long-awaited Main Street project could cost a total of more than $3 million dollars. In addition to storm drains, crews are replacing the roadway, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and installing new water and sewer lines.
Leaders say, so far, the project has stayed on schedule. Once the stormwater pipes are in place, Helena Sand and Gravel can begin installing the road surface. Redfern said most of the work should be finished by September, though they will most likely have to finish sealing and painting the road next year.
“We ask the public to be patient,” he said. “We realize that it’s an inconvenience with this road closure, and we’re going to be planning on working every Saturday to try and get as much done as we can.”