You asked: Is Country Club Ave. on the list for an upgrade?

Posted at 6:10 PM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 20:10:05-05

HELENA — Signs on both end of Country Club Ave. announce that it is a rough road, something regular drivers of the road know well. MTN viewer Windy Knutson asked when the road will get an upgrade more than just pothole patching. MTN found out, two projects are in the works for Country Club Ave.—one a short-term solution and the other a long-term fix.

County officials are unsure when Country Club Ave., just west of Helena city limits, was constructed, but the road was built before engineering standards were in place.

“The road has basically met its life expectancy,” Lewis and Clark County Public Works director Jenny Chambers said. “We have a lot of maintenance issues on that road.”

Chambers said the road subsurface is failing, and issues along the road are exacerbated by Montana’s freeze-thaw cycle, wetlands in the area and 6,000 vehicles traveling across it per day.

“Pothole repairs, on top of pothole repairs, on top of pothole repairs,” Chambers said of maintenance on Country Club Ave.

Upgrading the road is a priority for the county. The road was designated a Defense Access Route in 2022 due to its importance to military traffic from Fort Harrison.

The county’s long-term goal is a complete reconstruction of Country Club Ave., which will cost an estimated $8 million to $12 million and take several years to complete.

“The critical part is going to be to try to find funding,” Chambers said. “We don’t have $8-12 million sitting in our coffers.”

Chambers said the Defense Action Route designation could help secure funding for the reconstruction project.

The first step is the design phase, which will cost an estimated $750,000. Chambers said the county asked for that money last year through their Congressional FY 24 budget request, but have not heard if it has been granted.

“Once we get the design money, it would be anywhere from one to three years for the design,” Chambers said.

After the design, the county would need to apply for grant funding for construction.

“If we get funding, it would probably be a two to three year project of actual construction,” Chambers said.

While a full reconstruction of Country Club Ave. is years in the future, Chambers said there is a planned short-term fix.

“The interim thin lift overlay,” Chambers said. “Which would be like a 3-inch asphalt overlay.”

That temporary fix would cost between $400,000 and $500,000, funding the Lewis and Clark County Public Works Department has requested in the FY2025 budget.

If approved by county commissioners, Chamber said the asphalt overlay could be done in late summer 2024 or early spring 2025.