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MDT evaluates busy intersection west of Bozeman

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 17 2014 06:33:25 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 17 2014 06:47:48 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The Montana Department of Transportation tells NBC Montana it's taking a close look at a potentially dangerous intersection just west of Bozeman. It is the same intersection where a woman died in a two-vehicle crash on Wednesday evening. The intersection is where East Valley Center Rd. crosses under I-90, and connects with Frontage Rd.

To get more information about what is being done about this intersection, we spoke to Jeff Ebert, the Butte District Administrator for MDT.

"Recommendations that I have heard talk about -- one would be actually putting in a traffic signal and coordinating that with the railroad crossing that is there. That would take some coordination and conflict that goes underneath the railroad. The other option would be actually closing it, closing the intersection with secondary 205, but we want to make sure there is the ability to get vehicles from one side of the interstate to the other side of the interstate," said Ebert.

We also spoke with Montana Highway Patrol Sergeant Patrick McCarthy, who took us to the intersection. As we observed traffic for a few minutes, everyone seemed to be obeying the rules.

But McCarthy tells us they cannot monitor every intersection 24/7, and it is up to the public to make sure they are also keeping an eye out for themselves.

"You are driving a 3,000-pound approximate vehicle, and other people are doing the same thing, it behooves you to pay attention, slow down, clear the intersection and drive safely," said McCarthy.

When you approach an intersection like Valley Center Rd. spur and Frontage Rd., Sergeant McCarthy says it is important to go back to the basics, and look left, right, and then left again.

"Thats what we were all taught in drivers ed, and that's what you should do at every intersection," said McCarthy.

We also went to a nearby neighborhood off of Frontage Rd. where drivers encounter that intersection on a daily basis. Michael Clark has lived in the area for more than six years.

"I have got caught a couple of times, had some close calls, you just absolutely cannot see a car that is headed east sometimes," said Clark.

We asked what he would like to see happen at that intersection.

"I think a stop light at that intersection would help tremendously," said Clark.

Andrea Vanderpan is Clark's next-door neighbor, and drives past that intersection every time she heads into Bozeman. She also wants something done about that area, and says she does everything she can to avoid it.

"During the 5 p.m. rush hour, I will take 19th and then turn onto Frontage that way to just avoid the Valley Center intersection. It always seems like it is so busy, and you have very little time to turn," said Vanderpan.

While MDT tells us they are closely watching the intersection, they could not give us a time line on when recommendations for this area of road could be released.

"It's very high on our to-do list, as for addressing the crashes that are happening at that intersection," said Ebert.

We looked into numbers given to us by Montana Highway Patrol on how many crashes happen at that intersection. In 2013, we counted 26 total crashes on Frontage Rd. from Bozeman to Belgrade, with 18 injuries. According to the data, three of those crashes happened at the intersection of the Valley Center Rd. Spur.