Helena, the capital city of Montana, is cut in half by the Montana Rail Link Railroad and yet we have but one highway structure over the railroad, not counting the interstate overpass located on the edge of the city.
Two of the at-grade railroad crossings, Montana Avenue and Benton Avenue, carry a large portion of the traffic. Montana Avenue has one of the highest traffic volumes in the state, and the longer railroad trains now carrying oil and coal to the west coast create traffic backup, at times, to the next main intersections, a distance of several blocks.
Wake up, Helena. This situation is not only an inconvenience to the traveling public, but a hindrance to fire, police and ambulance emergency services and should be of major concern to both the city commission and the Helena Chamber of Commerce.
Many years ago the former city Mayor Colleen McCarthy spent a great deal of time and energy trying to get a structure built at the railroad crossing on Montana Avenue, all to no avail, due to the cost and low priority by the state highway department.
With any major project such as this, finding the funding and having the political support requires the concerted effort of not only the city and chamber, but the Montana Transportation Commission, Montana Transportation Director, plus our governor and congressional members working together toward obtaining any special infrastructure funding that may be required. Also, some interest and publicity by the Independent Record would be of great help.
As an 85-year-old lifetime resident, along with all of the traveling public, we have waited many years for a much-needed overpass or underpass a the Montana Avenue railroad crossing. The costs and traffic caused by the residential expansion in the valley, north hills and surrounding areas are continuing to increase over time. Hopefully I will still be around to see the completion of an overpass!
A copy of this letter is being sent to all parties referred to above with a request for a written response, which will be shared with the appropriate parties.
There is no reason that the capital city of Montana should have to put up with this situation any longer!
D. Budd Williams