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Work On Bullhook Drain Ditch Continues, In Last Phase

The Bullhook Storm Drain Project is in its last phase and could be finished by Thanksgiving, with the exception of asphalt touchup.

Havre’s public works director, Dave Peterson, hopes the nearly $1.3 million construction project that’s been drawn out and plagued by troubles since it began in 2016 will be finished this year — for the most part.

“With the exception of asphalt paving, which would be done in the spring,” Peterson told the Herald.

In June, Peterson said the goal was to have the project finished “before the snow flies.” However, even by Montana standards, the snow flew early, at the end of September. And there’s been plenty of it falling since.

Nevertheless, work on the Bullhook ditch has continued, as local construction company Lakeside Excavation Co. continues to put in hours.

Work on the drainage system started in 2016 after a series of problems developed with the largely underground system. Some work was completed that year, including fixing a hole so large people could see water flowing below, which forced closure of a block of Third Street.

But then the city started having problems with the out-of-state construction outfit it hired for the job.

Kinkaid Civil Construction Co. of Mesa, Ariz., submitted the lowest bid for the project and began the work in 2016. After taking a winter break, the company didn’t return for work in the spring. Kinkaid blamed the city, contending  Havre had failed to pay them in a timely manner, making the project impractical for the company. The city, however, believed Kinkaid breached the contract by initiating a winter shutdown that was never authorized.

The matter went to arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled that Kinkaid, not the city, was responsible for the problems.

The bonding company, Guarantee Co. of North America, was to find a construction company to finish the project. But then Guarantee started dickering with the city, contending the city should pay some of the money for the replacement contractor, delaying the project further.

The city ultimately decided to go ahead with Lakeside while negotiations continue with Guarantee. Peterson said the city has received some reimbursement from Kinkaid, but “we are still in negotiations with the bonding company for final reimbursement.”

The drainage system flows from south of Havre, north through the city, mostly beneath the surface where city streets and private homes sit. It eventually drains into the Milk River.

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Email Paul Dragu at (406) 262-7778
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