The last unreconstructed stretch of Rimrock Road between North 27th Street and 54th Street West will finally be completed this summer.
Knife River, which was awarded a $3.9 million contract from the city of Billings to rebuild Rimrock Road from Forsythia Boulevard to Shiloh Road, began work last week. Erin Claunch, an engineer with the city's Public Works Department, said the project "should be substantially complete by mid-October."
Completion has been a long time coming. Reconstruction of the first stretch of Rimrock, beginning on the eastern end of the road at 27th Street, began in 1995. Since then, the city and the state of Montana have completed other segments of the busy street.
As Claunch explained it, Rimrock is technically a state road eligible for federal funding, but it is not maintained by the state. Portions of it have been reconstructed as funding has become available.
As on the rest of Rimrock, this last project of a little more than a mile involves widening the roadway to three lanes, with a turn lane in the middle. It also involves the installation of street lights, striped bike lanes and curbs, gutters and sidewalks on both sides of the road.
Claunch said future development of the far West End may eventually require improvements to Rimrock Road west of 54th Street West, but there are no plans for that work now.
Another big project in Billings this construction season will be the continuation of improvements to Bench Boulevard. This Montana Department of Transportation project will entail the widening of Bench from Lincoln Lane to Clevenger Park, a little north of Hilltop Road.
Bench will be widened to three lanes with a center turn lane, new boulevard sidewalks will be built and a roundabout will be put in at Hilltop and Bench. The project is expected to start within a month and should be done this year, according to Gary Neville, with the MDT's Billings office.
The second phase of the Bench Boulevard reconstruction, from Clevenger Park to the intersection with Highways 312 and 87, is scheduled for next year.
Other city projects that will affect traffic flow this year include water and sewer line rehabilitation projects on Broadwater Avenue from 16th to 24th streets west and on Parkhill Drive from North 32nd Street to Virginia Lane.
The Broadwater project is expected to start June 3 and last 140 days, with traffic restricted to one lane in each direction. The Parkhill project is also scheduled for a June 3 start and should last 80 days. That stretch of Parkhill will be entirely closed for the duration.
The city will also be doing some paving overlays on portions of 19th Street West, on Broadwater from 24th to 29th streets west, on the older section of Aronson Avenue and on Monad Road.
On Newman Lane between King Avenue East and Ruth Avenue, the city will be doing some street reconstruction and putting in new sidewalks, curbs and gutters. A storm drain project on King Avenue West from 20th Street West to Daniel Street is likely to start soon after July 4 and is expected to have minimal impact on King.
Americans with Disabilities Act ramps will be built along Fifth Street West, and in the fall, work should begin on the first leg of the Inner Belt Loop between Alkali Creek Road and Wicks Lane.
Other MDT projects planned for the Billings area include a paving overlay on Montana Avenue from the east end of the Sixth Street Overpass to where Montana ties into First Avenue North at North 18th Street.
In addition to milling and repaving the roadway, ADA improvements will be made at intersections, and new sidewalks, curbs and gutters will be installed, primarily on the east end of the project where there are no sidewalks now.
Also scheduled for milling and repaving is the stretch of Laurel Road between the signal at King Avenue East and the Sixth Street Overpass.