As they have for the past three summers, work crews will again undertake major utility replacement projects in Billings.
This year’s projects, which are water main replacements, are along North 27th Street and Grand Avenue, said Randy Straus, a City of Billings engineer and project manager for the upcoming work.
The North 27th Street project, between Sixth Avenue North and Montana Avenue, is scheduled to begin July 14 and could last into November.
The Grand Avenue project was originally scheduled to begin around the same time, he said, but now might get started a little later. Western Municipal Construction of Billings is the contractor on that project.
COP Construction of Billings is the contractor for the North 27th Street project, which will cost about $2.7 million. Crews will begin at Fourth Avenue North and work their way south toward Montana Avenue.
It might be, Straus said, that during part of the project a separate crew from COP Construction will be working along North 27th Street between Sixth Avenue North and Fourth Avenue North, but that hasn’t been decided yet.
“We will have to see how the project is going, and see about the impacts” to the motoring public as well as businesses in the affected area, he said, adding that the Montana Department of Transportation is involved in the project’s traffic control as well.
“If there’s enough space, maybe we can allow two crews to work” simultaneously. That would, of course, hasten the expected completion date.
The project includes reducing North 27th Street to one lane of traffic in each direction. Motorists will be able to enter and exit businesses located in work zones, Straus said. “A project requirement is access to all businesses,” he said.
Work zones will be moved as crews progress along North 27th, he said.
“We are making an extra effort to keep the work zones smaller and to keep up with the paving work” that will follow the utility work, Straus said.
This year’s work is a continuation of the city’s now four-year effort to replace aging utilities, Straus said. In 2011, crews focused on Fourth Avenue North. The next year’s focus was on Montana Avenue. Last year crews replaced utilities beneath South 27th Street between Fifth Avenue South and State Avenue.
Motorists can do their part for the upcoming work by finding another route, if possible. City officials don’t plan a detour or road closure related to the project.
“If people can stay away, it’ll speed up their commute time and keep everyone safer,” Straus said. “The plan is to keep traffic moving, but we’re asking for patience” on the part of affected motorists.