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Traffic swells as prep begins for 3rd St project in MIssoula

Published On: Apr 09 2014 10:48:37 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Crews have begun moving power and gas lines for Northwestern Energy on Third Street in Missoula to make room for a major overhaul project slated to begin soon.

Crews are currently working near the intersection of Garfield and Third, and once that prep work is done crews will widen Third Street between Russell and Schilling.

There’s going to be a new turn lane, as well as bus pullouts, sidewalks and bike lanes. However, residents will have to deal with delays and detours in the meantime.

“I've got a feeling that it may affect us later when it's more of the sidewalks and paving situation,” said Beverly Gutman, owner of Marchie’s Nursery. Her store is seasonal, and this is prime business time.

“We're anxious for it to get done, I am glad it's being done. It's going to improve this area. There's going to be a lot of changes taking place,” Gutman said.

She added that crews working on the project have been courteous and have been good about notifying her about what they’re doing.

City crews say they’ll work to maintain access to businesses along the construction zone.

“I admit, it's not going to be easy, and will be a little inconvenient, but we will maintain access. We've told some of the businesses that they can make up some signs that we'll put out on our traffic control to direct people to their businesses,” said Construction Project Manager Doug Harvey.

Harvey says through traffic is what will be most impacted, though the project will be worth it in the long run.

Across the road at an apartment complex, a home caregiver agreed, and told NBC Montana she’s excited about the project, as she takes the road often to get to her clients.

“What I'm looking forward to is the road functioning better, once it's done, because it's definitely kind of rough out there,” said Maria Titus.

City officials point out that a trailer court on Third Street near the Good Food Store is also undergoing changes, though it is a process outside of what the city is working on and is being played out in the private sector.

Missoula city staff say a business is in the process of closing on a sale for one lot, and across the alley from that lot, a developer is planning on building houses. There’s also a third lot that city staff say businesses are looking at.

One resident told NBC Montana he has lived in the area for more than 10 years and doesn’t want to move.