MDT director invited to Highway 2 meeting
Tooley expected to attend Havre meeting Nov. 8.
October 31, 2013
A group advocating for widening U.S. Highway 2 to four lanes across Montana has invited Mike Tooley, the director of Montana Department of Transportation, to speak at its annual meeting, Friday, Nov. 8, in Havre.
Highway 2 Association President Bob Sivertsen said in a press release that the meeting, along with Tooley’s presentation, will include a discussion of the association’s activities in the past year and discussions of highway issues and changes to the association’s bylaws and election of its officers.
Sivertsen said in the release that the association wants more of a focus on the northern part of the state, where agriculture and energy development including on the Bakken formation make the region “the lifeblood of the Treasure State” and have helped create the revenue surplus the state has seen in the last two bienniums.
“Our focus has been to construct the four lane (highway) one segment at a time, with the Association’s primary focus being eastern Montana, where energy development has caused congestion on the highway,” Sivertsen said in the release.
Former state Sen. Sam Kitzenberg, R-Glasgow, passed a bill in 2001 directing MDT to widen Highway 2 to four lanes across Montana, as has been done in North Dakota.
A proposal to start the widening with a project between Havre and Fort Belknap fell through, with the Federal Highway Administration instead selecting an improved two-lane configuration including some passing and turning lanes.
The first part of that project, from just east of Havre to about 10 miles east, has been completed.
Former Gov. Brian Schwietzer took another tack, saying the construction should start with segments extending the four-lane North Dakota highway into Montana. A project is underway to do that.
MDT has completed a two-lane segment from the North Dakota border to Bainville, the first part of a project planned to create a four-lane highway from the border to Culbertson.
MDT spokeswoman Lori Ryan said earlier this year that the department was in the process of acquiring rights of way to build a second set of lanes next to the first from the border to Bainville.
The project was designed to build the first set of lanes to allow traffic to flow while the second set of lanes was built.
The Highway 2 Association meeting is scheduled to run from 11 am. to 3 p.m. Nov. 8 at Uncle Joe’s in Havre. Registration fee is $20, which includes a prime rib dinner. People are asked to R.S.V.P. at 262-2346 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.