Work could begin next week on a long-planned project to reconstruct a decades-old retaining wall that has kept a Montana Street hillside from crumbling into the west side of Butte-Silver Bow Courthouse.
Commissioners gave an OK Wednesday night to have Montana Street closed to traffic from Granite Street to Quartz Street for six weeks and maybe more, depending on how smoothly work goes to remove the existing stone wall and build a new one.
Vehicles traveling north on Montana will be rerouted west onto Granite Street, then north onto Idaho and then east on Quartz back to Montana. The same detour will apply to motorists going south on Montana.
Matt Moore, the county’s Metro operations manager who is overseeing the $300,000 project, said officials had considered keeping the one-block stretch of Montana Street open during construction work but decided it was too risky to work crews.
Excavating the old wall must be done carefully, he said, because it includes solid rocks and possibly decomposed granite in between.
They will be using heavy equipment, too, so it can be parked in or near the blocked-off area instead of having it moved each night. Those factors outweighed the slight inconvenience of having motorists drive around that block to continue on Montana Street, he said.
Need for the work was identified years ago.
Large swaths of the wall have sloughed off, sending crumbled granite and concrete onto the deteriorating deck and walkway. The problems have gotten worse in recent years, prompting the county to put money aside for its repair.
Rocks and material for the new wall will be kept on parcels directly behind the courthouse that are owned by Harp and Esther Cote. They have agreed to let the county use the spot as a staging area and commissioners approved a short-term lease agreement for liability purposes.
Water and sewer lines in the immediate area will be relocated temporarily, Moore said, and an entirely new wall will be constructed parallel to the courthouse. The project will free up more space on the west side of the building and new decking will be put down.
Buildings Director Pat Holland helped plan the project but he commended Moore and others with Public Works for spearheading it.