Guest Opinion

By: 
Ken Holmlund

Update on the road to Hell Creek

 

I know it has been a while since my last update, but things are happening that I would like to pass on to you.

First, Governor Bullock signed HB2 that was the vehicle for the funding to be made available for the road. The funds, $2 million, are coming from the Parks Department through the Montana Department of Transportation. This was necessary because the Parks Department doesn’t do grants for roads, and MDT does. The funds have been transferred to Garfield County, where they are deposited in a special account than can only be used for this project.

After numerous discussions with people knowledgeable about road construction, the decision has been made to use 3 inches of 3/4-inch crushed gravel with clay and magnesium chloride for binder. Most of the gravel will be coming from the pit at Moon Creek near Miles City, and discussions are going on about using a machine to mix the ingredients at the site of the stockpile near Jordan. That hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it sure makes sense to me, since we will get a better mix that way.

The road is currently flat, so a crown of around 3 percent will need to be done by the county before applying the gravel. Additionally, federal funds are paying for purchase and installation of three culverts on the road at trouble spots for water running over the road. We will wait until that has been done before we begin the project.

The hauling of the gravel to the storage site will take at least three weeks. Prince, Inc. has a site near Jordan that will be used for that site and probably where the mixing will take place as well. The work on the road will take about another three weeks with the Garfield County crew doing the spreading of the gravel. The county involvement allows us to do this job without the engineering department from MDT getting involved, at a substantial savings and will allow us to get the job done within the budget.

The Parks Department is moving forward on their plans for the water and sewer upgrades at the camping site. The work is currently scheduled for some time in 2018. The necessary studies and inspections have been done and the funds are available. Some details as to location of the water tank and septic tank have yet to be settled. More on that when it becomes available.

With the timing of the work on the road being pushed back so late in the season, weather is a factor. Our intention was to get it done this fall, but the work on the culverts has forced us to move the work back until next spring. The gravel is being hauled as you read this and, weather permitting, will be there this fall. Let’s get this done.

I would like to thank all the people that have helped get this project moving forward. As you may know, one senator tried to have the funds pulled from HB2, but Senators Eric Moore and Mike Lang stood up for the project and were able to keep the funds in place. I certainly owe them a big “thank you” for their efforts for eastern Montana’s biggest recreational destination.

 

Kenneth Holmlund is a Republican member of the Montana House of Representatives, representing District 38. He was first elected to the chamber in 2014.

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