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Snow, cold slow down work on Bozeman road projects

Cottonwood, Ferguson construction 'on track'
Posted at 11:39 AM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 13:39:25-04

BOZEMAN — Snow and construction usually don’t mix well. And with this early batch, especially in Bozeman, it could slow some projects down.

Despite snow and chill, Bozeman city crews are still working steadily on roads like Cottonwood Road.

The intersection of Ferguson and Durston down the way, as well, has continued to transform into a roundabout.

But this snow and, more importantly, the moisture on the ground — that’s going to cause some issues.

“It primarily affects the paving operations that we have on our projects," says Shawn Kohtz, Bozeman city engineer.

Along Cottonwood, what once was a temporary trench has now been refilled, forming what almost looks like a road again.

Just without the potholes.

However, it’s still dirt and a bit of snow could keep it that way.

“We can’t pave streets unless it’s 40 degrees and rising, and we also can’t pave if we have precipitation falling," Kohtz says.

Kohtz says with things damp and freezing, the science that goes into building a road from scratch feels it first.

“We can’t have what are called frozen separated materials, basically frozen soils that we would place asphalt on so we really are depending on things to warm up a little bit before we can pave more of our projects," he says.

When it comes to any delays, Kohtz says it all comes down to the pavement. If the top is slushy or wet, that pavement can’t come down.

The hope is that they’ll be able to catch up, but when you look at the size of the project, they’re going to need all of the time they can get.

“We’re crossing our fingers that the weather will hold through October," Kohtz says.

But when it comes to progress, things are getting better — at least according to Bill Pratt, who still has a front row seat to Cottonwood’s transformation.

“They’re working long hours and I have to compliment them on that," Pratt says.

When MTN News first spoke with Pratt, there were other concerns.

Temporary water hoses -- while city crews worked around other water mains.

Those are gone.

“They showed up," Pratt says. "They were very congenial and answered any questions. In fact, I think the guy apologized to me.”

And he says dust mitigation is more under control.

As for the possibility of delays, Pratt’s not worried about this, either.

“They’re actually moving faster than what I expected because most of the time road projects seem to take forever. But it would still be interesting to hear from the city as to what their time frame is," Pratt says.

Kohtz told MTN News that his crews still aim to get routes opened through both the Ferguson and Cottonwood construction sites before winter is truly here.

As for the projects, no specific date set, but they are aiming for next spring.