Broadwater Avenue is under construction yet again as crews work to find out why the asphalt settled several inches in the eastbound lanes between 16th and 19th streets west.
According to Randy Straus, an engineer with the city’s Public Works Department, the settling started shortly after last year’s $3.6 million Broadwater water and sewer line rehabilitation project was completed.
Straus, who managed that project, said poor patching done on the street over the course of this winter was directly related to the settling problem.
“The poor patching is really the result of trying to do something to make the surface drivable in the dead of winter,” he said.
“The first time we had to dig in there was back in February. But the plants that create hot asphalt that can be mixed and rolled and create a smooth driving surface don’t start up until mid-April. So all of the patchwork that was done prior to then had to be done with other alternatives that are downright inferior to hot mix asphalt.”
One of these alternatives is cold mix asphalt, which is normally used for patching during winter. However, the harsh weather this winter created so many potholes in roads across Billings that the city eventually had to use other alternatives, including concrete, in order to keep Broadwater drivable.
COP Construction, which worked on the water and sewer project, is required under last year’s contract to investigate and correct the asphalt settling. The goal is to have the source of the problem discovered by the end of May and to start resurfacing by the beginning of June. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June — before work starts on replacing a water main under Grand Avenue in July.
Straus said COP is paying for all the new asphalt work between 16th and 19th “because the asphalt did not meet project specifications.” And if the settling that occurred is found to be COP’s fault, he said, the company will be on the hook for all the additional project costs.
Straus also noted that “the city isn’t the only entity working on Broadwater right now. Montana-Dakota Utilities is in there doing some work on its gas mains … . They’re moving a gas line out of the street and into an alley north of Broadwater.”
MDU’s project is taking place near Broadwater and 19th Street West, which was also the site of a gas leak earlier this week. Straus said MDU’s work won’t affect the city’s project on Broadwater.
Despite all of the construction, businesses on Broadwater apparently are faring better than they did during last year’s summer-long project.
Tom Swoboda, the owner of Broadwater Mercantile, at 1844 Broadwater, said this year’s construction is “definitely better than last year when they had the road blocked off for the whole damn summer.” He also said that he doesn’t think he’s lost any business because of this year’s project.
While the road work doesn’t seem to be affecting Broadwater businesses, the two projects will no doubt add to the challenges that drivers will have to deal with on the highly traveled road through the summer.