BUTTE - Orange barrels will be familiar sights for motorists on Interstate 15-90 running through Butte for the next three years. It’s all part of a $24 million project to replace four highway bridges.
“Quite frankly the bridges were getting tired,” said Jeff Ebert of the Montana Department of Transportation. “They were built back in the 60s and fast approaching their design life.”
Eastbound traffic is being diverted two just two lanes between Rocker and Montana Street, while the westbound bridges are repaired this summer.
By winter, both lanes will be open to traffic and the work will begin next spring on the eastbound bridges. The bridges will be widened to provide more shoulder room.
“Conventional shoulder of 8 to ten feet on both sides rather than one foot or less shoulder,” Ebert said.
Another reason for this project is they eventually want to move the eastbound City Center exit on to Iron Street from the left side of the highway to the right side of the highway, which is where most highway exits are normally located.
“It’s a safety issue. You have vehicles that want to take that left off the ramp mixing with traffic that wants to stay in the passing lanes. The expectation is you don’t take an exit and go to the left, you take an exit and go to the right,” Ebert said.
There’s no timeline set for when the exit will be changed, but the bridge will be built to allow room for the next exit. Work is expected to be completed by summer of 2021.