It was ‘City Talk’ day on Friday’s Talk Back Program with guests Brian Hensel, Deputy Public Works Director for Streets and City of Missoula Public Information Officer Ginny Merriam.

Hensel said with much less traffic on downtown streets, his road construction crews are making good progress on needed repairs.

“What we’ve been able to do is take advantage of the lower traffic volume to get some paving projects done that would be more difficult under normal circumstances,” said Hensel. “For example, the big one was Higgins between Broadway and the ‘X’s’ and we also did some work on Ryman and Woody on the east and west sides of city hall. Obviously, those are areas normally that are very congested, have a lot of parked vehicles, a lot of traffic and pedestrians and bikes. Right now, all of that is fairly minimal and we were able to get those projects done in a somewhat safer environment for our crew due to the lack of traffic.”

One listener called with a continuing problem with the roads in the Rattlesnake area near Lincoln Hills. Hensel said there are basic design problems with that part of Missoula’s streets that defy repairs.

“Lincolnwood is an especially difficult situation,” he said. “Those streets have what is called an inverted crown, meaning that they were built, designed and constructed long before my time where all the water is diverted toward the center and it goes into storm drains located in the center of the street.”

Hensel said surface repairs simply won’t have any effect on the basic faulty design of the streets.

“The issue I have is that because the basic design is poor, is that I’m almost wasting money because I know that water is going to deteriorate almost everything I do until that can be rebuilt, and I cannot tell you when funding will ever be available to do that,” he said. “Certainly, I am as frustrated as the residents are up there that I can’t do more, but it’s just that when we go on there and do it I know it’s not going to last very long because it’s likely going to be under water.”

Hensel said plans are also underway in the summer to continue the city’s long range chip sealing program.