The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is seeking comments on a proposal to realign and reconstruct about 1.8 miles of Highway 117, west of Nashua. The project begins at the north end of the Milk River Bridge and proposes reconstructing Hwy. 117 north for 1.8 miles, intersecting with U.S. 2.
The project would create a second access to U.S. 2 for the community of Nashua through construction of a “grade separated crossing” of the BNSF railroad.
Community meetings were held last year in Nashua for a solution to the problem of trains blocking the highway through town for long periods. School buses, emergency vehicles and others have experienced delays of 30 or 40 minutes. Sometimes people go around the cross arms, a dangerous practice that has resulted in at least one death recently.
Construction of another crossing has been one suggestion, but it did not seem possible until the MDT planners working on a scheduled upgrade of Hwy. 117 from Nashua to Fort Peck offered to reconfigure their plan. Leaving plans for the highway south of the bridge alone, they proposed building a new segment of highway straight north from the bridge to U.S. 2, crossing the tracks with an overpass (referred to as a grade separated crossing).
The existing roadway through Nashua, Sargent and Front streets, will receive a pavement preservation treatment. The project will include roadway widening, improved geometrics, realignment, upgraded pavement marking and signage.
“The planners think there won’t be as much truck traffic through town,” said Nashua Mayor Pat Hallett. “They’re going to maintain the road.”
Hallett said an informal straw poll she took showed more people in favor of the overpass proposal than against it. The Town Council voted to accept the proposal and asked MDT to “go for it.”
Construction is tentatively planned for 2016 depending on completion of design and availability of funds. New right-of-way and relocation of utilities will be required. As a consultant for MDT, HDR Engineering staff or representatives will contact all affected landowners prior to doing survey work on their land. MDT staff will contact landowners prior to construction regarding property acquisition and temporary construction permits.
For more information, contact Glendive District Administrator Shane Mintz at 406-345-8212 or project design engineer Tim Erickson, HDR Engineering at 406-651-6656 or MDT consultant project engineer Jacquelyn Smith at 406-444-7694.
Members of the public may submit written comments to the Montana Department of Transportation Glendive office at P.O. Box 890, Glendive, MT 59330-0890, or online at www.mdt.mt.gov/mdt/comment_form.shtml.
Please note that the comments are for project UPN 5157002.