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With contracts and funding in place, Mullan project set to begin within days

Mary Jane Boulevard, running left to right in this photo, and England Boulevard, running top to bottom, will both be extended and connected to other roads within the Mullan project, which is slated to begin this month. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file)

After years of planning and chasing funds, the city and county of Missoula plan to see work begin on the Mullan project as early as this week, so long as the weather cooperates.

Missoula County on Tuesday approved several items related to the project, including a contract amendment with the city over the sharing of costs. The contractor submitted a maximum price for the project’s first phase of $15.9 million, roughly 2.4% less than the engineer’s estimate.

“It’s a good number from our perspective,” said Shane Stack, the county’s director of Public Works. “But as a result, we still had to upgrade some budgeting numbers for funding on the local end. The city did increase some of its funding for road and transportation dollars, as well as some sewer and water funding.”

The city also committed roughly $700,000 for trail work associated with the project.

With the bid price and contracts now in place, Stack expects the project to begin this week or next. It’s a welcome step for those behind the project, who were forced to delay construction last spring when a funding gap emerged as material and labor costs soared.

“It’s great we’re at this point, finally,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “It’s been one of the hardest environments to move a large project.”

With construction starting this month, Stack said current plans call for project completion later this fall. Whatever isn’t finished will be wrapped up the following spring.

The work will include two roundabouts on Mullan Road, one at the intersection of George Elmer Drive and the other at Mary Jane Boulevard. George Elmer will be connected to England Boulevard, and England will also be extended to Flynn Lane.

Lastly, Mary Jane will be fully connected between Mullan Road and West Broadway.

“There’s some existing infrastructure in those locations, but all those connections will be made,” Stack said. “They don’t exist today. We’ll have sidewalk, curb, gutter, sewer and water included within the scope of the project as well.”

Commissioners also agreed to let Stack approve any change orders of $200,000 or less when related to the project. Doing so will save time and keep the project moving on schedule, Stack said.

“We’re working with the contractor as we develop the set of plans, and they’re all working to put the plans together, so we shouldn’t have any surprises,” Stack said. “But in the event that we have surprises, it allows me to move a change order a little more quickly. It’s a time-saver more than anything.”