BOZEMAN - The sound of the train that echoes throughout the Gallatin Valley might not seem all that bad, but the closer you get to the tracks the bigger the headache it's causing for those around it.
For Reno Walsh living near the train has not only become something he has to sit in traffic and deal with but it's something he says is affecting his quality of life.
“For a family man like me, my kids on occasion will wake up because of the train, and I wake up often,” says Walsh.
According to the Montana Department of Transportation, as many as 38 trains travel across the Rouse Ave. crossing and around 28 times per day at Jackrabbit Lane. Now the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is looking at solutions in the area.
“The real elephant in the room wasn't necessarily the capacity increase on Jackrabbit lane, it was the at the grade rail crossing,” says William Fogarty, Butte District Administrator for MDT.
According to MDT, commute times in Montana have gone up 4.9 percent and Fogarty says those times could be even higher in Southwest Montana.
“‘We need the capacity but the feedback from the public was that ‘you can give us all the capacity you want we still gave this bottleneck at this crossing’,” says Fogarty,
In Belgrade where the train passes through on Jackrabbit lane, around 22,000 cars a day pass through, and in Bozeman along Rouse Ave, that count is around 14,000 cars per day.
“The train does impact everybody,” says Walsh.
MDT conducted a study in 2016 and found that 10 crossings across the state would be for high consideration of some sort of reconstruction. Of those 10, three of them were in Gallatin County alone - Jackrabbit Ln, Griffin Dr. and Rouse Ave. were listed in the study. The study found Jackrabbit Lane to be of high priority.
“This particular crossing had the highest number of daily vehicle volume and traffic delays of all crossings analyzed in that study,” says Fogarty.
With all the growth taking place in the area MDT says it's hard to play catch up and trying to get every project some priority and funding has been the biggest task.
“We know we are behind the eight ball, all of us- city, county, state, where we have had this large influx and our system is being strained,” says Fogarty.
MDT says with the passage of the infrastructure bill might mean more funding, and Walsh hopes that more funding could mean a better night's sleep which he wishes was.
“Tomorrow, but if I have to wait till next year that is better than waiting five years from now,” says Walsh.
The hope is that with the passage of the infrastructure bill more funding becomes available to move the Jackrabbit Ln. project up and even if that does happen it could still be a couple more years before work even begins.