By Michael Heins
Compared to any larger community Havre's traffic problems seem minimal.
Greg Szudera of the Montana Highway Patrol and Ron Bastin, Havre's Public Works Director, said there are a few potential solutions for some Havre area traffic problems.
Havre's highest crash areas are the intersection by Holiday Village, the intersection by Kmart, Highway 87 and U.S. 2 at the west end of Kmart, Szudera said. Second Street east of Kmart is also a high accident area, he said.
The road construction near Holiday Village and Kmart adds to the traffic problems in the area as well, Szudera said.
One solution for the traffic problem is more enforcement.
"We can foresee many problems in these area and we have made ourselves visible to the public and with only four accidents in a three month period it seems to be working," Szudera said.
"The general public appreciates our visibility on the hill," he said. "We have received 100 positive confirmations of this from the public through letters and only one negative response."
Some of the other dangers from construction areas are flying rocks breaking windshields.
Pedestrians crossing in the middle of the street between intersections pose another traffic problem.
"People crossing in the middle of the block are setting up a crash situation," Szudera said. "Whenever you see someone jay walking, approach with caution."
Szudera said most of the motoring public is good at following the rules.
"Occasionally someone comes in for a traffic complaints, but our problem is nowhere as bad a larger community," Bastin said. "The traffic on Fifth is one of the worse areas when the high school kids get out for lunch."
Bastin said he has received suggestions about turning Fourth or Sixth Avenues into one-ways along with Fifth Avenue to alleviate traffic problems. But he said he did not believe turning these streets into one-way traffic lanes would alleviate traffic problems in Havre.
"People tend to forget that Fifth Avenue is a secondary State Highway," he said. "We can make suggestions for improvements to the Montana Department of transportation (MDT), but ultimately it is up to the state to make the changes."
The Havre Police have compiled data for selected intersections in the city of Havre, Bastin said. The data covers a period from Jan. 1, 1996, through June 30, 1999, and is recorded with the Justice Department.
The data goes to the MDT for a study to identify problem areas in Havre.
A memorandum of understanding concerning a transportation safety study has been drafted between Havre, Hill County and the MDT.
In the draft memorandum, Havre, the county and MDT agree to having a consultant review and identify safety improvements at the site and corridors, with the objective of reducing the number and severity of traffic accidents in the identified areas.
MDT agrees to finance this transportation safety study at these locations through a consultant for a maximum fee of $75,000.
The city, county and MDT agree to implement the study's low-cost safety recommendations which may include signing, striping or removal of vision obstructions on the road, this all depend on funding.
"The money is tight for road work in Havre," Bastin said. "Certain urban streets are designated for MDT funding while other are not.
"Even though the traffic is light compared to Billings or Spokane, things are going to be a bit of inconvenience at times for Havre motorists."