The Montana Department of Transportation is looking for comments on a plan to make improvements on a small section of the highway that runs north to the Port of Wild Horse on the U. S.-Canadian border north of Havre and is moving forward with a study that includes looking at potential future traffic from the border crossing, while the international committee trying to upgrade that crossing also continues its work.
MDT has announced a project to reconstruct about 1.2 miles of Montana Secondary Highway 232, which runs from Havre to the port.
At the same time, a study is progressing to see if the infrastructure of that highway and of Montana Highway 191 from Malta to the Port of Morgan is sufficient to deal with increased traffic coming from the ports, including if their status is upgraded.
Hill County officials — and advocates of upgrading the Port of Wild Horse — have long been pushing for improvements to Montana 232. The first 20 miles or so of the highway north of Havre have seen no significant improvements or upgrades since it was constructed in 1956.
The Wild Horse Border Committee, co-chaired by the mayors of Havre and Medicine Hat, Alberta, has been pushing for most of the past decade to upgrade Wild Horse, now a permit-only port with limited hours, with the eventual goal of making it a 24-hour commercial port.
The reconstruction project, intended to improve safety, will start just north of Havre before the intersection of Wild Horse Road with Montana Highway 233, called St. Joe Road, and run just more than a mile.
The construction is planned to start in 2014.
New right-of-way and relocation of utilities will be required. MDT staff will contact all affected landowners prior to doing survey work on their land.
Staff will again contact landowners prior to construction regarding property acquisition and temporary construction permits.
For more information, people can contact Great Falls District Administrator Doug Wilmot at 406-454-5887 or Project Design Engineer Steve Prinzing at 406-454-5899 at 406-444-5899. For the hearing impaired, the TTY number is 406-4447696 or 1-800-335-7592, or call the Montana Relay at 711. Members of the public may submit written comments to the Montana Department of Transportation Great Falls office at PO Box 1359, Great Falls, MT 59403-1359, or online at http://www.mdt.mt.gov/mdt/comment_form.shtml
The project UPN is 7889000. Alternative accessible formats of this information will be provided upon request.
The other project has a much broader scope.
It follows a 2010 MDT study that concluded that traffic between Montana and the strong and growing economies of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan will increase, with the traffic on Wild Horse Road and Montana 191 expected to see the fastest growth in traffic numbers.
The study also concluded that one to two ports between Sweetgrass-Coutts, north of Shelby between Montana and Alberta, and Raymond-Regway, north of Plentywood — the only 24-hour ports between Montana and those two Canadian provinces — would need to be expanded to at least 16-hour, seven-day a week operation.
The study, awarded to HDR Decision Economics of Silver Spring, Md., which has offices in Montana, will look at the future needs of infrastructure at the ports and the highways connected to them.
The study was awarded Dec. 24 at a cost of $123,000, and had its kick-off meeting in Helena Jan. 8. It is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 2013.
Meanwhile, the co-chairs of the Wild Horse Border Committee, Havre Mayor Tim Solomon and Medicine Hat Mayor Norm Boucher and the other board members, are working on having the summer hours at the port extended for implementation of a three-year pilot program of extended hours.