Havre Daily News - News you can use

Petition drive starts to kill Grass Range roundabout


November 15, 2017

Courtesy photo

Bob Sivertsen

Havre Daily News staff

Three lawmakers - two active and one retired - are taking action to stop construction of a planned roundabout at the junction of U.S. Highways 200 and 87 near Grass Range, a project Bob Sivertsen called "an insidious, ill-conceived, $4 million safety project."

"I'm aghast that the Montana Department of Transportation would even consider constructing such a monstrosity out on the baldheaded prairie when the safety issue can be fixed for under $250,000, with the balance of the $4 million being used for other safety projects on Highway 200," Sivertsen said in a press release about a petition to stop construction of the roundabout.

Sivertsen, a former legislator, farmer and rancher and president of the Highway 2 Association, and Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, and Rep. Dan Bartel, R-Lewistown, are leading the petition drive requesting the roundabout plans be scrapped.

MDT delayed construction of the roundabout at the start of the year after opposition from many sources complained about the project.

In an Oct. 4 release in the state Department of Transportation News, MDT said after further study the department found the roundabout, scheduled for construction in 2018, to be the most cost-effective solution.

The release said previous attempts to mitigate the crash problem at the intersection included overhead flashers, in-lane rumble strips, oversized speed limit reduction signs with flashing oversized warning signs, and oversized four-way stop signs.

An 88-hour study over four days in June found those items are not working, the release said.

"The general traffic behavior recorded over this time indicates only a third of traffic came to a complete stop at the stop signs, with two-thirds making rolling stops or running of the stop signs at full speed," the release said.

The release said MDT will pursue the construction of a roundabout as the best solution, adding that single-lane roundabouts have an excellent track record for virtually eliminating severe crashes, while moving traffic efficiently.

Courtesy photo

Mike Lang

"We take our mission of providing a transportation system and services that emphasize quality, safety, cost effectiveness, economic vitality and sensitivity to the environment seriously," MDT Director Mike Tooley said in the release.

Sivertsen said petitions have been distributed throughout the region, and Sivertsen encourages supporters who have not found a petition to email their support at [email protected]

"I have worked with MDT for over four decades, seldom does the bureaucracy listen to anyone," Sivertsen said. "It's time that we the people step up and put a stop to MDT's out-of-control spending."

The deadline to sign petitions or email support is Dec. 5.

People can mail petitions to Bob Sivertsen, President Highway 2 Association, PO Box 2226, Havre Mt 59501.


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