MISSOULA — Work starting to rebuild Reserve Street this week will update the road's original surface from the 1990s, leading to what engineers say will be a smoother and quieter drive.
But getting through all the construction interruptions is expected to last through much of the summer.
It's known as the busiest street in Montana, with anywhere from 40-to-50 thosound vehicles using Reserve Street every day. But all that wear and tear since it was first widened in the mid-90s is taking it's toll.
So starting this week, the entire street is set to be rehabilitated, along its entire 5-mile length.
"It's a long one. It goes all the way from Brooks north to the Interstate. And we're going to be going in there, any of our faulted and cracked concrete panels, that's all going to be new concrete pavement in there," said Bob Vosen, the district administrator. "We're going to be replacing the cracked and faulted panels. Some of the ones that have a single crack that we can repair will be, they call it stitching together. We basically tie it together with dowels. And then when we're done with all that work we come through and put a finished grind on it to give us a really smooth roadway surfacer to ride on."
Vosen said the original concrete has actually performed pretty well with regular maintenance. But there comes a time when it's best to do the heavy repairs and replacement, and that's what will be happening in the coming week.
"That concrete has held up really well. But it's part of our pavement preservation, which is what can we do to keep our good roads good," said Vosen. "It's kind of an 'oil change' type thing. Preventative maintenance type work."
At the same time, crews will be reconfiguring the interchange at Grant Creek to improve west bound turns onto I-90, and installing some additional ADA features for the disabled that weren't a part of the original project.
Anyone who remembers the massive traffic delays when Reserve was widened years ago is probably having bad flashbacks about now. But Vosen says the contractors will do the work at night to ease the impacts as much as possible.
"We've got 40-thousand cars a day out there, so we need to work on that at night. Which does present some other challenges. But that's when that work will take place," said Vosen.
There will be single lane closures, and delays of up to 15-minutes.
However, the good news is, contractors will be using newer materials that aren't as subject to temperature, so most of the work can be done at night.