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Reserve Drive South alleviates driver woes

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Oct 04 2012 06:48:26 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Drive the stretch of Highway 93 near Hutton Ranch Plaza long enough and you'll get fed up with the traffic, especially in the summer months.

"It was gridlock from here to downtown, really," said JD Morrell's owner Michael Lorland. "There are rear end collisions every day on 93 because people don't realize they have to stop a half a mile before the light."

"I've been here since March," explained Club Sun employee Elisheva Weaver, "just from then to now has gotten a lot busier, especially with Walmart here."

Hutton Ranch Plaza is a busy place - with box stores, restaurants, and a movie theater - but nearby Highway 93 recently received the green light, literally. The Montana Department of Transportation added a $2.99 million road, Reserve Drive South, that connects the plaza to West Reserve Drive.

"I think it's going to be a great thing to relieve the traffic congestion," said Lorland. "The road cutting back over through to Reserve is going to help. The four way stop was fun to watch but no one wanted to go through it. It was always a pain trying to find out who was going to go next."

The pesky four way stop is now a thing of the past - two new traffic signals line Reserve Drive South. The one entering Hutton Ranch Plaza will have customers slowing down and waiting a bit longer before moving, and businesses say they're happy about that.

"They'll have a minute or so where they're sitting at the light and they can look over and see what they have," said Lorland.

"There's food over here and the movie theater," said Weaver. "I think it will bring a lot more business over here. Montana is expanding and it's definitely needed."

Reserve Drive South is part of the bigger Highway 93 Bypass project, but MDT officials say construction on that road won't start until 2013.