By HDN Editorial Board
It's time to get the ball rolling on U.S. Highway 2.
SB3, sponsored by Sen. Sam Kitzenberg, R-Glasgow, is nearing the final hurdles to be approved to start work on transforming U.S. 2 into a four-lane highway, and we at The Havre Daily News encourage everyone in the state, from members of the Legislature to citizens of the state, to support this bill.
The bill has now been amended by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and only needs a final vote from both houses of the legislature to be approved. Once approved, work can start to plan for the widening of the highway, which is already nearly done in North Dakota.
Widening the highway would have two main effects. Perhaps the most important is increasing safety on the narrow road, on which 1,037 accidents occurred last year, resulting in 19 fatalities and 743 injuries.
Another would be increased traffic on the highway, resulting in the same economic benefits every other area with a four-lane highway has benefited from. Increased traffic and faster, easier shipping will bring more money into the area and into Montana.
As currently amended, the bill is just a starting point. Kitzenberg has said that the first few years will be taken up by feasibility and environmental impact studies, and the actual construction would be several years down the road. The completion of the project would probably be decades away, but the longer we wait to start, the greater the delay is likely to be.
The bill now states that no current highway funding will be diverted for this project. The Kalispell chamber of commerce has nothing to worry about there, nor does any other area looking for highway improvements.
The issues of safety and economic survival definitely justifies looking into the improvement of U.S. 2. We at The Havre Daily News applaud all who have worked to make the bill a reality, and encourage everyone to let the Legislature know they support this bill.