County upgrades roads on the cheap

The Beaverhead County Road Department has been busy this week with a project at Overland Road. Grader operator Bob Ferris is shown laying out asphalt millings from the Interstate project. The contractors from the state are delivering the millings and laying them out on site. J.P. Plutt photo


According to Beaverhead County Commission Chairman Tom Rice, the county will upgrade two roads and save on maintenance and improve their approval rating for regular travelers on Overland Road and Sweetwater Road.

The current project involves the free gift of asphalt millings from the Interstate 15 project, a resurfacing of both sides from Dillon to Barrett’s Station. The contractor, Riverside Construction out of Missoula, hauls the millings to the site for free with belly dump tractor-trailer rigs.

“We’re getting the millings for free and the haul for free,” said Rice. “Our expense is in the manpower to spread it around, but with the savings from maintenance and dust abatement, we’re coming out of this in great shape.”

The commission plans to resurface the entire stretch of Overland Road. When that project is finished, they will start on Sweetwater Road at the juncture of Kentucky Avenue, and go as far as the free supply of milllings will allow.

“I don’t want to say a distance specific because we just don’t know,” said Rice. “We’ll go as far up the Sweetwater as we can.”

The road crew has a grader, two rollers and two water trucks working on the project. According to Rice, the millings will be spread out with the grader with a crown on the road for drainage. The next step will be to apply reclaimite, a substance that rejuvenates the asphalt and seals and bonds the road.

The highway project is both sides of the Interstate over an eight-to-nine-mile stretch from Dillon to Barretts Station. Last year the first phase came in from Apex to Dillon. The county utilized the millings to build roads at the fairgrounds and other places around the county.

Rice said the selection of roads to resurface is based on a combination of things but focuses on high traffic areas that require an inordinate amount of blading to keep the roads in shape for traffic.

In other county business, Rice reported that the Beaverhead County Planning Board is aware of two cell tower applications in the Big Hole Valley. Bridger Wireless would like to build a 195-foot tower near Wisdom, and Verizon has applied to build a 190-foot tower near Jackson.

The commissioners were briefed Monday on a request for earmarked alcohol tax money by the Southwest Chemical Dependency Program. Due to a 2011 assessment of Beaverhead and Madison counties being “high risk” for underage drinking and prescription drug misuse, the counties have been awarded a pair of $55,000 grants.

Brandy Piper of Sheridan will run “Partnership for Success” an education program, and Hailey Dean from the Dillon office of Southwest Chemical Dependency will orchestrate a prevention program. Each prong of the attack will get $55,000 when the grant kicks in July 1.

The monies come from the Montana general fund.