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Bozeman one step closer to seeing slower speed limits on city streets

Speed Limits BZN.jpg
Posted at 4:16 PM, Jul 26, 2023

Following the death of beloved Bozeman High School teacher Kelly Fulton on his bicycle in October 2022, residents pushed city leaders to lower speed limits across Bozeman streets. City leaders took that one step closer Tuesday night to lowering speed limits across the city, including streets like Ferguson Avenue.

“Ferguson Ave. will be our largest reduction. That's currently 35 miles per hour. It will be dropped to 30 miles per hour,” says Bozeman Transportation and Engineering Director Nick Ross.

City leaders passed the first round of an ordinance that would drop the speed limits on 11 miles of streets in Bozeman, streets like Baxter Lane west of 19th Avenue, Ferguson Avenue, Davis Lane, Fowler Lane south of Huffine Lane, and Garfield Street west of 19th would all see a drop in speed limits.

“A new strategy for setting safe speed limits and then applying them to those streets that had seen the biggest need,” says Ross.

As part of the safer streets plan, school and park zones will also have a noticeable change for drivers.

“The noticeable change is to remove the time of day enforcement. We acknowledge through this process that both our schools and parks function really at all times of day,” says Ross.

Another issue that the city is having is that they're not able to lower speed limits on every single road that they want. For example, the section of West Oak between 7th Ave and 19th Ave, where Kelly Fulton died, is one that is controlled by MDT. So the city has no control over the speed limit.

The city can go through a process to lower the speed limit through MDT, a process that can take anywhere from nine months to a year.

“So the city does not have authority to set speed limits on those state-controlled portions of roadways ourselves,” says Ross.

As a result, the city is conducting speed studies to look at reducing speeds along Baxter Lane east of 19th, Oak Street Between 19th Avenue and 7th Avenue, and Kagy Boulevard next to Montana State.

The city says they want to work with MDT and other large cities across the state to give them more flexibility to set speed limits.

“We feel that makes sense for the other local authorities to have control over setting safe speeds,” says Ross.

The Bozeman City Commission will hold its second reading on August 8. If that passes, speed limits would be reduced around September.