Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News email@example.com
Hill County Commissioners met with the Department of Transportation last Thursday to go over the speed limit on U.S. Highway 2 going west past the new Wal-Mart just outside of Havre. After noticing turning conflicts and hearing voiced concerns of citizens, the Hill County Commissioners requested a speed study be completed by traffic engineers who were in the area for a few weeks, according to Michael Johnson, Great Falls district administrator. Results of the study determined that 85 percent of the drivers drive in a fairly safe and reasonable speed, averaging 50 mph and that the current speed limit of 55 out by Wal-Mart was a little high. “We will recommend that the speed zone between Wal-Mart and the Havre Holiday Village entrance be reduced from 55 mph to 50,” Johnson said. “We already have had a couple accidents there at the start of the speed zone and after investigating, the MDT has tried to engineer approaches and turn lanes in the best way to provide for the safety of the vehicles out there.” The process of changing the speed zone will begin with a letter from the county commissioners to the MDT Commission who have the final say in the change. The transportation commission is made up of five members from each district in Great Falls, Butte, Glendive, Missoula and Billings and will meet on Monday, April 30 in Helena. “The reduced speed will more accurately reflect the actual conditions and driver expectations in that area,” Johnson said. “We hope it is reflective in reduced accidents and in lower accident severity.” Montana utilizes the same method of establishing speed limits that is used by nearly every other state to keep driver safety awareness maximized, according to Johnson. “The expectations of a driver in Montana, should be the same as every other state to avoid confusion,” Johnson said. “We are not establishing a speed limit, we are changing a speed zone by 5 mph. We will now wait for the transportation commission to make it official and will change signs within a day or two of their decision.” The county commissioners said their request came about from citizen concern and voiced support for the reduced speed by Wal-Mart. “We support the reduced speed, that’s for sure,” County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said of the proposed change. “Safety is our main concern we don’t want any more accidents here.” For more information, contact Johnson at the MDT office in Great Falls at 454-5887 or visit www.mdt.state.mt.us.