MADISON COUNTY — A rise in accidents urged the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) to conduct a safety study along Highway 84 near Norris. MDT is conducting the safety study on a portion of the highway from the Warm Springs Boat Launch to the Red Mountains Campground.
“I used to travel it once or twice a month, but lately it’s been on a daily basis," said Linda Browne.
Browne knows the road well.
“It has curves. It has dangerous spots. It has a lot of beauty. It has a lot of wildlife,” she said, describing the roadway.
Brown is glad MDT is doing a safety study on the highway but wants to make sure it brings about real results.
“My fear is a lot of focus on the danger of the road, that there’s problems, there’s issues and there’s no solutions,” Browne explained.
But MDT says it's already looking at viable solutions.
“Other options we’re looking at is to realign the roadways around the mountains, around the hills that are out there and then also possible even looking at structures, possibly a tunnel and possibly a bridge that will change the whole alignment out there,” said Jason Senn, the MDT project manager.
But it will be years until those physical changes can happen.
“Because of the way MDT plans their projects, they go on a five year basis. So, if the study’s completed in 2021, we can identify a project. The earliest we can construct this project is 2026,” Senn explained.
In the meantime, Browne has some immediate suggestions.
“It’s really important to slow down. It’s not meant to be driven full-on, 70 miles per hour the whole way,” she said.
MDT encourages residents to participate, voice their concerns at its public meetings, and visit its website.