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Central Avenue

FIRSTMARK Construction mills asphalt from Central Avenue between Shiloh Road and 32nd Street West on Thursday.

Crews are working on Central Avenue again this summer, repaving a stretch of the road to correct problems with the asphalt they laid last year. 

It's all part of a large-scale road widening project that began last summer and included adding roundabouts to the intersections along Central between 32nd Avenue West and Shiloh Road, and expanding the busy street to four lanes. 

Work on the road lasted all summer and stretched into the fall, with some of the final paving happening in November. The asphalt laid at that point of the project didn't meet the standards the city had required when it put the project out to bid. So Firstmark, the construction company doing the work, was required to come back in and do it again. 

"We didn't accept it," said Debi Meling, city engineer. "We rejected that asphalt." 

Firstmark understood the city's concerns and was cooperative in returning to lay the asphalt again at their own expense, Meling said. 

"They were paving (last fall) in conditions that weren't favorable," said Erin Claunch, the city's traffic engineer. 

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The weather ended up adversely impacting the new asphalt. Specifically, the joints in the asphalt didn't meet the standards set by the city and the pavement's "ride-ability" was an issue. Joints are where two sections of asphalt meet. On the Central Avenue project, the depth of the asphalt at the joints didn't meet the city's requirements and the joints themselves were in the wheel path, Claunch said. 

This week, crews have been out milling down the road and removing the asphalt. Next week, they'll start the repaving. Once the work is done, crews will wait for the oil to settle into the pavement after which they'll stripe the road. 

Billings School District's vocational school, the Career Center, is on Central as is Montana State University Billings' City College. Classes for School District 2 resume on Aug. 22 for kindergarten through ninth-graders. Sophomores to seniors will start class Aug. 23.

Claunch said he expects most of the work to be done before school starts at the end of the month. 

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