With growing traffic problems and the potential for even more development in the coming years, finding safety solutions along U-S 93 in the Lolo-to-Florence corridor won't be cheap. And it's likely going to take a mix of changes. Initial ideas have included barriers to prevent head-on collisions, more turn pockets, and means to make it safer for traffic coming off side roads. 

Other challenges aren't as visible, as improving highway wildlife crossings. 

Montana Department of Transportation Missoula District Administrator Bob Vosen says, whatever happens, the state must proceed carefully to keep from complicating the problems.

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Ideas may include safety devices, or under highway wildlife crossings

"One component of that is to make sure that we don't fix something too quickly without checking out and making sure that we aren't creating problems somewhere else, which can happen too," Vosen tells me. "So that's the reason for this overall overarching study that we have. We have some spot improvements from the 2020 study that is out there."

That study looked at some specific ideas. But this past week, MDT and its consulting engineers kicked off a year-long effort to get your thoughts on what could be done during a workshop in Lolo. 

Dennis Bragg photo

"You know I've had a couple of people asked me some really good questions that kind of spur some thoughts in my mind. I'm sure there's in the rest of the team as well, so we'll go huddle up and figure out you know well what. What can we do to move these forward? How do we incorporate all these great ideas of the public brought us?"

The challenge is the massive backlog of projects across Western Montana. But Vosen is optimistic that with the right ideas, and a combination of funding support, some of the changes could be made.

Engineers discuss ideas with residents last week- Dennis Bragg photo

"It's pretty tremendous the disparity there," Vosen admits. "But if we can figure out maybe what the key components are, how we can best solve the problem, then we can work with different local groups the counties and see if we can apply for grants in addition to our normal core funding."

You can find out more, and get involved, on the project's website. 

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