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Meeting introduces viaduct safety improvement plans to the publi - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Public meeting introduces viaduct safety improvement plans

Posted: Feb 06, 2018 10:16 PM Updated:

EAST HELENA - The public was able to get a closer look at safety improvements coming to the East Helena viaduct on US-12 on Tuesday.

The Montana Department of Transportation announced plans to install concrete barriers on the viaduct to prevent cars from crossing into oncoming traffic, which they said has been one of the biggest causes of crashes.

MDT and the civil engineering company DOWL hosted a public meeting to answer questions about the project. According to organizers, the 3 p.m. presentation drew about 30 people.

DOWL senior planner Chris Deverniero said the meeting went well and that people had many questions about the work.

"I was very well received today," Deverniero said. "The public was very engaged, asking questions, very curious about the project details in particular."

Workers will also add a raised median to the center of the roadway as well new lighting, improved signage, and a new surface treatment to improve traction and reduce skidding.

The project is slated to begin in April or May with the bulk of the work happening between July and November.


(FEBRUARY 5) The East Helena viaduct on US-12 has always been a problem spot for crashes but now the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is working to change that.

Beginning in April or May, crews will install concrete barriers on the viaduct to prevent cars from crossing into oncoming traffic, which they said has been one of the biggest causes of crashes.

Traffic data shows 75 crashes were documented between 2005 and 2014 on that section of the road.

One person was killed recently on that stretch when a vehicle veered out of its lane and hit the person's car in December.

“Roadway improvements could not have prevented all of those crashes,” Roy Petersen, MDT traffic and safety engineer, said in a release. “But we determined that engineering improvements that separate opposing lanes of traffic, enhanced visibility of all traffic lanes, delineated the center of the roadway, and increased traction on the bridge surface would benefit drivers.”

Workers will add a raised median to the center of the roadway as well new lighting, improved signage, and a new surface treatment to improve traction and reduce skidding.

According to MDT, the majority of the construction work will happen between July and November.

Civil engineering firm DOWL, in partnership with MDT, is working to raise awareness about the project.

Project Manager Sarah Nicolai said the project is all part of MDT's effort to save lives on the road.

"MDT is focused on eliminating deaths and serious injuries on Montana roadways and this is one project in pursuit of that Vision Zero initiate," Nicolai said.

The improvements are funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

According to MDT, the section of roadway was nominated for improvements at the beginning of 2017.

To raise awareness about the project, MDT and DOWL are hosting an open house on Tuesday at the East Helena Volunteer Fire Department Fireman's Hall at 2 East Pacific Street.

The open house goes from 3 to 7 p.m. An overview of the project will be presented at both 3 and 5:30 p.m. 

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