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Construction booms in old Sawmill District on Missoula's westside

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Apr 08 2013 06:55:52 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 08 2013 10:15:47 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

There's a lot of construction going on near Civic Stadium in the Old Sawmill District on Missoula's westside.

It's a project paid for by the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.

Bridge crews are replacing a portion of the Montana Rail Link trestle. It will make for a new east west traffic link between Russell and Orange.

Missoula College students are helping MRA.

Heavy equipment students from Missoula College are making soil from age old sawmill debris, sifting it, and piling it, to build the final phase of Silver Park.

It's 14-and-a-half acres off the Clark Fork River.

As they dig, college students are unearthing 100 years of soil, sawdust and industrial infrastructure.

"It's a neat experience for them," said the Missoula Redevelopment Agency's Chris Behan. "I think they'll have good resumes when they come off this job."

But he also said the city is getting the really good deal. MRA pays for the equipment and the fuel. But Behan said the partnership between Missoula College students and MRA is saving the city enough money so the rest of the project can be done with private contractors.

"Probably a couple-hundred thousand dollars is the value of what they're doing for us," said Behan.

But there are other private construction crews already working nearby.

There will be a new link for Wyoming Street between Russell and Orange. Wyoming Street will move traffic traveling east and west.

A major planned unit subdivision filled with houses, retail and office space is planned in phases through the years, so traffic will grow.

Bridge crews are rebuilding a portion of a Montana Rail Link trestle. MRL uses the 300 foot trestle, but has closed it down for a few weeks for reconstruction.

The work is being done for Wyoming Street's extension.

"It will be safe and there will be more room for pedestrians and bicycles," said Behan.

The trestle work is expected to be finished at the end of May.

Silver Park is expected to be finished this fall.