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Gallatin Gateway School concerned about impact of Highway 191 improvement projects on students

"I am concerned about our students before and after school," says Kelly Henderson, the superintendent and principal of Gallatin Gateway School.
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Posted at 8:01 PM, Mar 26, 2024

The Montana Department of Transportation recently announced their US 191 Pavement Preservation project, and construction is expected to start this spring. Located just South of that construction area is Gallatin Gateway School, so how is this going to affect the students?

“There's only a couple of ways to get here and 191 is the major route,” says Kelly Henderson, the superintendent and principal of Gallatin Gateway School.

Henderson tells me she has concerns about this new construction.

“The majority of our students are dropped off by their parents so it will probably be a little bit more congested than it already is,” she says.

And because Gallatin Gateway has 131 students, that’s a lot of cars added to construction traffic. But congestion isn't Principal Henderson's largest concern regarding this upcoming road work.

“What is also concerning is we already have gravel trucks that don't necessarily follow the speed limits down this road and so I am concerned about our students before and after school,” says Henderson.

Although most students are driven to school, there are still many that walk, using an underground pedestrian bridge off Mill Street. Henderson fears increased traffic may cause safety hazards to students using the bridge.

Craig Walker, the engineering project manager for the first segment of construction, thinks otherwise.

“The pedestrian bridge in Gateway won't be affected,” says Walker.

This segment occurs north of Gallatin Gateway. We spoke on the phone to discuss the effects construction will have on the flow of traffic and when people can expect to start seeing delays.

“We're starting to build the detour to replace that bridge this week. The detour should be finished Friday, and then we’ll switch traffic onto the detour Monday. The anticipated completion date is in mid-August," says Walker.

The bridge being replaced spans a farmer's canal near Zachariah Lane. This segment of construction also includes the addition of a left turn lane, which will add to traffic congestion.

“Once we get into real construction, then there will be up to 15-minute delays for alternating traffic,” Walker tells me.

As for the second construction segment, north of Lava Lake, you can expect reduced speeds, lane closures, and signal-controlled one-way traffic.

Although these delays will impact Gallatin Gateway School, including the school bus route, Principal Henderson appreciates improvements on the highway, even though she feels more could be done.

“I wish that we could get the stop light, or a roundabout, or something put in up here at Mill and 191. Sometimes it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to get onto 191,” she says.

Drivers can expect to see delays starting Monday all the way through mid-August.