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Gateway signs getting pricey

| September 3, 2004 12:00 AM

By Brent Shrum, Western News Reporter

The estimated cost to build 10 ³gateway signs² at five locations around Lincoln County has increased substantially following a meeting with Troy officials, project organizer Debi Davidson told the county commissioners on Wednesday.

The county has already allocated the $25,000 initially estimated for the project and has offered to prepare the sites for the signs using county road crews. The state has approved the two Troy-area sign locations along U.S. Highway 2 and Montana Highway 56, and Troy officials previously indicated that city crews would install the poured concrete signs.

But at a meeting this week, Troy representatives indicated that city crews won¹t be able to install the signs and that a contractor would need to be retained to build the signs on-site, Davidson told the commissioners. Concerns were raised about the chance of the signs cracking if built at one location and then transported to the site where they will be installed, she said.

Based on quotes from two firms, Davidson estimated the cost of building 10 signs at $60,000.

Commissioner Marianne Roose indicated that investment in the project by the county at that level is unlikely.

³As great as I think the signs are, I¹ve got to tell you I have a problem with $60,000,² she said.

Commissioner John Konzen said he doesn¹t see why the job needs to be so complicated.

³I don¹t think this is a rocket scientist pouring concrete into a form,² he said.

The project was initially proposed for volunteer labor primarily from county and city crews and didn¹t involve contractors, Konzen said.

³It seems like it¹s just escalating,² said Commissioner Rita Windom.

³I¹m not willing to pay a contractor,² Konzen added. ³The bottom line is that wasn¹t the agreement.²

He suggested that Davidson and the committee working on the sign project pass that information along to Troy officials.

³I think once they¹re told no that they have to go back and find a way to design it and implement it,² he said.

The sign project grew out of the ³Dream It, Do It² economic development workshop held in April 2003. In addition to the two locations in the Troy area, signs are being planned for U.S. Highway 93 north and south of Eureka and on U.S. Highway 2 south of Libby at the Thompson chain of lakes.