Phase five of the Missoula County Courthouse remodel project officially got underway on Wednesday, that will primarily deal with the exterior and the courthouse grounds.

Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss said the trees that have been on the grounds for nearly a century are ready to come down around the historic building designed by A.J. Gibson.

"We had the city's arborist look at the trees and tell us what he thought, should we prune them up or can they be saved," Curtiss said. "Maple trees they say have about an 80 year life, and I think we got about a hundred years out of them, so I think we're good there. But, we'll be taking them down and then replacing them with not little baby trees, but some pretty good sized trees."

Curtiss said the overall cost of the courthouse remodel is over $16 million.

"It's been spread over the last five or six years, it'll be a little over $16 million in all," she said. "$4 million was cash that the county had saved up, and to date we've borrowed $9 million, and to pay for that, we've added one mil to the property tax over the past four years to pay that off over time."

The courthouse lawn will begin to be fenced off starting on Wednesday, and tree cutting will begin on Monday, June 26. As work will continue throughout that week, curbside parking on the east side will need to be shut down. Areas will be reopened as areas are cleared. Exterior work is expected to continue through the beginning of October. County project staff worked to ensure cost savings along the way, scaling back scopes of work to provide the desired design at the lowest cost of $790,778.

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