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How are roads named in Lewis & Clark County?

How are roads named in Lewis & Clark County?
Posted at 10:36 AM, Apr 17, 2024

HELENA — Helena is about 700 miles away from the nearest ocean, so why is there an Ocean View Drive? While there are rules and a process for naming roads in Lewis & Clark County, there is also a lot of leeway for people to choose some interesting road names.

Road naming is handled by the Lewis & Clark County-City of Helena Geographic Information Systems Office. They maintain a database of the almost 3,000 road names in the county, with new ones added every year.

“We generally get about six annually,” GIS analyst and addressing coordinator Jason Danielson said.

Danielson said road name requests often come from contractors, developers and engineers, and a lot of those are for new subdivisions in the county. But, anyone can apply to name or rename a road.

According to city-county rules, names should be short—one or two words—and not repeat or sound too similar to an already existing road. Road names can be first or last names, and first and last name combinations are approvable if the person has historic significance—like Jeannette Rankin Drive. and Cromwell Dixon Lane.

Road name applications go through the city-county addressing office, and if the name follows the rules, a letter about the proposed name is sent to adjacent property owners on the road. If a majority of the property owners support the name, it is approved.

“Ultimately, folks can come up with any name they want, as long as it’s approvable,” Danielson said.

That leads to a lot of interesting names, like 'Seinfeld' reference Vandelay Avenue, None Such Street, and Knot A Road.

“We had a road name request for velociraptor,” Danielson said. “That one was quite unique. Interestingly, property owners decided to rename that.”

Dusty Maiden Dr. and Canyon Ferry Rd.
Dusty Maiden Dr. and Canyon Ferry Rd.

While the parameters are not overly restrictive for road names, there are strict rules for street type, like court, loop or lane.

“Those are very specific,” Danielson said. “Essentially, those help assist responders in case of emergencies.”

For example, in the county, a road generally runs east to west while a drive runs north to south, a court is usually any cul-de-sac less than 1,300 feet long, and a lane is a meandering roadway less than 2,500 feet long, although there are exceptions to these designations.