By Steve Hubrecht

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An unpaved stretch of a major street has raised more than a little dust and, at the same time, raised the ire of residents.

The parts of 13th Avenue at its four-way intersection with 14th Street have remained unpaved since last summer, when the District of Invermere undertook phase two of major — and urgently needed — sewer and water upgrades. The scope of the upgrades eventually expanded to include a portion of 15th Street, which has, consequently, also been a gravel road since last summer.

The sewer work was not entirely finished before frost set in late last fall, and at the time district officials explained it would be completed in the spring, once the ground had thawed. That has happened, and all the sewer and water pipes are in place. But 13th Avenue — one of the busiest streets in town in terms of traffic — and 15th Street are still gravel. A rainier-than-normal spring has helped tamp down dust, but a patch of dry weather and the rapid approach of summer in recent weeks have led to plenty of dust and potholes. This in turn has led more than a few residents to call the Pioneer and vent their frustration at the situation.

As it turns out, the paving is on hold until the local Martin Marietta Scandia Asphalt Plant in Athalmer opens up for the summer season.

That typically happens some time in June, Invermere Mayor Al Miller told the Pioneer last week, adding he’s hopeful it will happen in mid-June this year, rather than later in June.

Miller explained that the contractor doing phase two of the sewer upgrades — MarWest Industries Ltd. — is responsible for looking after the gravel stretches of 13th Avenue and 15th Street until they are paved.

MarWest has been maintaining the gravel roads “and we (the district) have also done a bit of grading ourselves,” said Miller. He noted that the sheer volume of traffic on 13th Avenue does not make it easy to keep dust down and potholes smoothed out, but added, “I do have a lot of empathy for people living there. It is an issue.”