HELENA – Drivers and bicyclists were able to travel up and down Helena’s West Main Street without interruption Friday, after contractors wrapped up major work for the year on a major reconstruction of the street.
Helena Sand and Gravel removed all traffic controls on West Main Thursday. Project manager Solomon Redfern said he was pleased with how the nearly five-month project had gone.
“Everyone collaborated together, and it made this project go really smoothly,” he said. “It went way better than what I initially was thinking.”
Construction crews expanded stormwater drainage along the street and installed new water and sewer lines.
“Some of the old utilities were over 100 years old,” Redfern said.
They also rebuilt the sidewalks and curbs, widened the roadway and added bike lanes and parking space.
The intersection of Grizzly Gulch and Oro Fino Gulch was redesigned, so the roads would meet at roughly a 90-degree angle. Redfern said authorities were concerned drivers were going too quickly through the intersection, and they changed the traffic pattern to encourage them to slow down.
Next month, Helena Sand and Gravel will do some additional work to install a new storm drain along the roadway, but that will not require traffic controls. There will be impacts to traffic next spring, when they will spend several days applying a chip seal to finish the road surface.
“This road should be a good road for the next 30, 40 years before it needs any updates on it,” said Redfern.
Helena city leaders have been looking at rebuilding West Main Street for years. They projected the project would cost a total of more than $3 million.
Redfern said the actual cost will be in line with what was predicted. Helena Sand and Gravel actually wrapped up their major construction work about a week earlier than they had expected.
“We had good weather which helped out the progress on this project,” said Redfern. “The residents and the people that lived up here were really helpful, and they listened to our traffic control and followed our traffic control.”
For much of the project, people living along West Main and south of town had to deal with serious delays. A pilot car directed traffic for weeks, causing stoppages of up to 20 minutes. For about a month, the road was closed completely, and drivers had to take a 15- to 20-minute detour using Davis Gulch Road and Arrastra Gulch Road.
“I know at times it was troubling for them, but I just want to thank them for their patience,” Redfern said. “It ended up being a good project for the city and for us, and I hope for everybody.”