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Sunday, February 18, 2018

MDT, Public Works come up with this year's city street repair plan

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

There won’t be as much street repair work in Glendive this year as the 30 blocks the city did in 2016, but there will be some significant repairs to a few key city streets this year thanks to the city’s recent inclusion in what’s known as the Pavement Preservation Program.

In 2013, the Montana Legislature passed a bill which broadened the definition of an “urban area” for the purposes of including communities in the federally-supported Urban Transportation Program. Last year, Montana Department of Transportation District 4 Administrator Shane Mintz informed city and county officials that by virtue of Glendive’s inclusion in the Urban Transportation Program, the community would immediately be eligible to receive about $300,000 through the associated Pavement Preservation Program to make repairs to certain major urban transit routes in the city and West Glendive.

On Thursday, Glendive Public Works Director Jack Rice had a meeting with MDT and county officials to discuss which streets would be repaired this year using those Pavement Preservation Funds. There are caveats to its use, primarily that it can only be applied to major arterial streets and that the street can’t be in such bad shape that a full reconstruction is required.

Rice said at Thursday’s meeting that he, MDT, and county officials sat down and rated the condition of the streets which would qualify for the program as major urban transit routes, during which they determined that the city’s needs were greater than West Glendive’s.

“We came up surprisingly in a pretty good agreement, and for the first batch of funding, the streets in the city were determined to be in worse shape than the ones out in the county,” Rice said. 

Rice and MDT officials then worked out a prioritized list of streets to include in the project. Listed in descending order of priority, the project list includes: a milling and overlay of the Barry Street underpass; a chip seal of Barry from South Anderson Avenue to Taylor Avenue; a milling and overlay of North Sargent Avenue from Benham Street to Allard Street; a chip seal of North Anderson Avenue, including and continuing past Allard; a chip seal and re-striping of the Allen Street underpass; a crack fill and chip seal of Sargent from Raymond Street to Snyder Street; a milling and overlay of Sargent from Barry to Raymond Street; a chip seal of Snyder from Sargent to Taylor; and a crack seal on Dilworth Street.

“We came up with what I think is a pretty good plan,” Rice said. “This will be our major street work in the city this year.”

Rice did note that the last two or three projects on the priority list may have to be cut depending on cost and funding availability.

“Some of them may get cut off the list, depending on the funding,” Rice said.

The city also does not have a timetable for when the work will be done. Unlike most city street projects, MDT will be completely running the show on this one. Rice said the work will get done sometime this year, he just doesn’t have a schedule for it yet since MDT is in charge. He also praised the agency for the way they have worked with the city to set it all up.

“MDT’s been very good to work with on this,” Rice said.

There is other street work Rice would like to get to, like chip sealing the 30 blocks the city overlaid last year, but first he has to build the city’s street funding back up, which is largely based on the state gas tax dollars the city receives. The city spent most of its street repair funding on that half-million dollar project last year.

“Those 30 blocks that we overlaid (last year) are going to get chip sealed, but they may have to ride it out until 2018,” Rice said.

Fortunately for the city, building back up their funding for capital street improvements shouldn’t take as long as it has in the past. 

City Director of Operations Kevin Dorwart noted at Tuesday night’s city council meeting that with the Montana Legislature’s passage of an increased gas tax which will continue to climb incrementally over the next several years, the city will receive an additional $107,000 in gas tax funding next year over what it has been getting, which will eventually ramp up to an additional $143,000 per year as the tax incrementally increases.

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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