(Missoula Current) Motorists cruising through the intersection of Russell and Third streets may have noticed a better ride in recent weeks now that the city has completed a repavement project.

Brian Hansel, deputy director of public works, said the project was done under an existing maintenance agreement between the city and the Montana Department of Transportation.

The time to complete the roughly $63,000 job was now, he said.

“Considering the time of year and the difficulty we've had in getting materials and asphalt, I had the opportunity to get the mix I needed, and MDT lined out an opportunity to do the work,” Hansel said. “We milled and paved out the intersection, which has been in terrible condition for the last several years. I finally had an opportunity to get it done a couple of weeks ago.”

The Russell and Third street intersection is one of the busiest within the Russell Street corridor, which is undergoing its own expansion and redevelopment.

Two years ago, MDT completed the first phase of work to widen the north stretch Russell from two travel lanes to four. The section extended from Dakota Street to West Broadway and included an underground pedestrian tunnel and a newly revamped bridge over the Clark Fork River.

The second phase of that work is expected to take place in the years ahead and will widen Russell south to 14th Street. Expanding the capacity of Russell was identified as a need in the city's 1996 transportation plan.

For now, at least, the Third Street intersection has been improved.

“That stretch of the street really needed the work,” said Missoula City Council member Mirtha Becerra.