New turnlanes on U.S. Highway 191

Flaggers monitor traffic on U.S. Highway 191 north of Gallatin Gateway. Increased traffic along U.S. Highway 191 from Four Corners to Big Sky has prompted the Montana Department of Transportation to study the area to develop plans for possible road improvements.

Increased traffic along U.S. Highway 191 from Four Corners to Big Sky has prompted the Montana Department of Transportation to study the area to develop plans for possible road improvements.

During the next year or so, Robert Peccia & Associates, a Helena engineering firm, will look at things like existing infrastructure, how drivers use the road and future development plans. The firm will also seek feedback from the Federal Highway Administration, local governments and the public to understand the needs in the area.

Based on its findings, Robert Peccia & Associates will develop potential projects to improve the highway, including the junction at Four Corners and the intersection with Lone Mountain Trail in Big Sky.

Projects could be adding traffic lights, changing speed limits or expanding the roadway. The potential projects, along with possible funding sources, will be incorporated into a final report.

The study will cost about $200,000 and will be paid with federal money that the state Department of Transportation receives, said Butte District Administrator William Fogarty.

“Studies provide a holistic view of the roadway corridor being studied and guide future transportation planning to improve traffic operations and mobility,” he said.

As part of the study, the Gallatin County Commission plans to ask the Department of Transportation to look at the section of Norris Road between the intersection with Highway 191 in Four Corners to the Storey Gravel Pit because they have heard from residents who are concerned about the speed limit in the area.

The Department of Transportation studies roads around the state every year to inform the projects it does. A few have been completed in the Bozeman area, including one on Bridger Canyon Road, which indicated the need to repair bridges, widen the shoulder in spots and alter curves in the roadway.

In addition to studying Highway 191, the Department of Transportation is now upgrading 11 miles of guardrails between Moose Creek Flat Campground and the Hellroaring Trailhead. The $1.6 million project is being completed during weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., reducing travel to one lane in some areas and causing significant delays.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com. Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

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