(HELENA) Crews began work Monday on a major street reconstruction project in Helena.
They are currently digging up a section of Front Street. The street is closed between 14th Street and the federal courthouse.
City engineer Ryan Leland said the project was initially proposed as a way to replace an approximately 100-year-old stormwater main under Front Street.
“It’s going to be a huge benefit to the city, because right now it’s undersized and we have it backing up and flooding some areas,” he said.
But leaders decided that, since they already needed to dig up the street, they should expand the project’s scope. They will also replace a 50-year-old water main, which Leland said should reduce the risk of a main break under Front Street.
Finally, they will fully rebuild the street, from sidewalk to sidewalk, to make it more accessible for pedestrians.
“We’re going to see 10-foot sidewalks, curbs, gutters, angled parking, a meandering street,” Leland said. “So this is basically the new urban design that we’re doing to try and make it more pedestrian-friendly and friendlier to the businesses that are around.”
Leland said people going to the federal courthouse will have to park on the side streets, where parking lots will remain open. Employees at SoFi will be able to park at the old armory building and walk across Centennial Park and through the Lyndale Avenue underpass.
Leaders plan to complete the entire work on the section north of 14th Street by mid-July. They will then start work on the area between 14th and Neill Avenue. The full project could be finished by around October.
The whole project is expected to cost around $4 million. Leland said city stormwater and water fees will pay for those parts of the work. The street sections will be paid for through a combination of street utility funding and money from the state gas tax.