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After surviving two explosive blasts, the well-known sandstone formation known as "Monkey Face" is expected to be gone by the end of the week. 

Crews from Geostabilization International, the firm tasked with the job of removing rocks in danger of falling from the Rims along Zimmerman Trail in Billings, trim-blasted the well-known sandstone formation, but only were able to remove the back of it.

The front portion is cracked and fractured, but still holding on, said Paul Rieger the project manager for the Montana Department of Transportation.

But not for long. 

"The plan is to scale and use air bags to remove remaining portions," Rieger said. The face should be gone in the next few days as GSI crews use crowbars and inflatable airbags to dislodge pieces of rock that are at risk of falling.  

"We’ll probably finish up that work this week, depending on weather," Rieger said. 

Once scaling work is completed, GSI crews will clean the area before road restoration operations can begin. 

"We’ll remove the earthen berms and the City of Billings plans to then fix the pavement and the guardrail," he said.

According to Rieger, the berms have minimized damage from the rocks significantly.

"We have removed the largest and heaviest rock blocks, and there’s been minimal damage to road surface and guardrail," he said.

No private property has been damaged, despite the blasting being in close proximity to homes.

"We're pretty happy about that," he said. 

The $718,220, project is on schedule, and the completion date still remains June 13. 

A $9,000 per-day incentive has been established if the work gets done early, and the firm will be charged $9,000 each day the work goes over that date. 



Chris Cioffi covers city news for The Billings Gazette in Montana.