Reopening of Popular Montana Campground Delayed

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March 19, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

The opening of the upgraded Riverside Campground below Canyon Ferry Dam 20 miles east of Helena Mont., has been postponed until June, the Helena Independent Record reported.

The renovation work was originally scheduled to be completed in November 2011, but construction-related delays have pushed that date into early summer, said Shawn Bryant, the assistant facility operations specialist for the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), which operates the campground.

He added that the date is conditional, depending on favorable weather.

“The site has to be dry and it has to be thawed out, so if they’re able to get in there earlier I expect that they will,” Bryant said. “We are expecting Helena Sand and Gravel to be back on site no later than May 1, 2012.”

The popular campground was closed for most of last year as $953,000 worth of upgrades began.

Work includes adding a few more level sites for campers, as well as a group shelter that can be reserved. The BOR also plans to pave the road that winds through the campground, while the camping sites themselves will be compacted gravel. The level of services will remain the same, although a couple more water spigots could be added.

Workers are also rearranging the parking for the boat ramp, installing a handicap-accessible fishing pier and have already installed a new boat ramp and dock.

BOR officials initially had said they would try to keep the boat ramp and dock open while the upgrades were being made, but the road is now barricaded and boaters can’t access the ramp.

“There is a contract in place to do work at that site, so it has to be available to the contractor,” Bryant said. “They could start to work today, tomorrow or a week from now — it’s up to them. So you can’t open it up and let people use it when it has to be available to the contractor at any time.”

BOR officials say that fishing access and day-use sites below Canyon Ferry Dam will remain open during the construction. He said the contractor only needs to do some final grading and landscaping, construct a few trails through and around the site, chip seal a portion of the road, and repair concrete damaged by a fire at the boat ramp.

Bryant said the agency hopes to have the work completed as soon as possible, because he’s also been hearing from the public that they want to use the site.

“We have been fielding calls here from the public,” Bryant said. “I don’t know why it’s taking so long; I just know there was some kind of delay and the contract was modified with a new completion date.”

The project manager for Helena Sand and Gravel couldn’t be reached Friday afternoon via phone to comment on the closure of the boatramp, but in an email, General Manager Nick Miller said the project was a bit behind schedule because of the weather last fall.

“The walking trail on the project incorporates a soil stabilizer additive called ‘ENVIROSEAL.’ The additive is temperature sensitive and the manufacturer recommends temperatures in the mid 40s for a 24-hour period after installation,” Miller said. “We had freezing temperatures last year starting about mid-October, which is when we were completing the asphalt-paved parking lot.

“We are anticipating warm temperatures in April so we can install the trail and seed the project. … We’re hoping to have it done in time for memorial day weekend.”

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