We have a saying here in Montana: There are two seasons – winter and road construction. It’s true that once winter finally thaws in late May any construction project must make hay before the frost hits again.
Days are getting shorter and the temperature is dropping, therefore another construction season is drawing to a close. The amount of work in 2014 rivals any in Butte’s recent history. A recap of our accomplishments – and a peek at what’s in store ahead – just might keep us warm through the colder, slower months.
In the private sector:
• $21 M Northwestern Energy Building
• $1.9 M at the St. James Cancer Center
• $2.6M by National Affordable Housing around Butte’s Uptown for construction on 17 homes
• $474,000 by Nistler/Leipheimer for three 4-plexes on Argyle, Thomas and Thornton streets
• $374,000 Thriftway Convenience Store improvements
• $138,000 Triple S Building improvements
• $250,000 Pita Pit
• $495,000 Butte Brewery on Galena
• $500,000 Wal-Mart remodel
• And, though the construction of the building was completed in December of 2013, the new $4M Montana Chemical Dependency Center on East Mercury opened its doors in early 2014, further revitalizing Butte’s East Side.
In the public sector, the following were some of the big projects, collectively marking 2014 as what may have been the largest construction season in our local government history…
• $34M Wastewater Treatment plant
• $1.3M parking lot and access improvements and at the Bert Mooney Airport
• $2.19M Emma Park Neighborhood Center
• $2.25 M Butte Justice Center
• The Montana Department of Transportation spent millions on improvements to Interstate bridges, interchanges and the Rocker exits, not to mention a major mill-and-fill in Elk Park and a reconstruction of the old, silver bridge near Divide
• Continuation of the millions of dollars in remediation and restoration work on Silver Bow Creek and the Butte Superfund complex.
• And our own Public Works Department spent well over $1M on paving and utility work, again exceeding the previous year’s numbers on asphalt tonnage put down to improve our streets, such as Farragut, Paxson, Wynne and Granite, not to mention all those potholes
Next year, once the ground thaws, our local and regional contractors are ready to pick up where they left off.
Two big, new public projects
Butte-Silver Bow will be awarding a contract to break ground on a new $30M Basin Creek water treatment plant that will feature a state-of-the-art ceramic filtration system – the first of its kind constructed in North America. This project along with the continuation of the new wastewater plant additions, are the two largest local government construction projects since we built the Big Hole water plant, the Civic Center and the courthouse.
In addition, the Bert Mooney Airport will be making over $7 million in terminal upgrades, further improving southwest Montana’s air services, and BSB in cooperation with MDOT has major improvements in store along Park Street from Montana to Excelsior.
Work will also continue on the Northwestern Energy project and we are eager to see what other private sector construction projects crop up in 2015.
All this activity is evidence that Butte is in motion.
For every one of these millions of dollars spent on construction, there are many more spent in our community. Sure, there are bound to be some short term inconveniences like more traffic, more bodies on the streets and longer lines at our stores and restaurants, but all of this is economic development.
More paychecks for more Butte and southwest Montana workers and their families make everyone richer, both figuratively and literally.
When all of these projects are complete in the next couple of years, our community will be transformed for the better in many ways. Some of the temporary construction workers, engineers, architects and their families may become new Butte residents, and our city and much of its infrastructure will be ready for a new generation of growth.
Thank you to all the entities making these investments in their business and our community, and to all of the employees working hard to make us newer and better. As a local leader and lifelong resident, we welcome the improvements and changes these projects bring.