By Martin Kidston
A recent accident at Flynn Lane and West Broadway prompted Missoula County to ask the state to take a closer look at the high-speed intersection and consider making changes aimed at safety.
Greg Robertson, director of public works with Missoula County, told commissioners on Thursday that the Montana Department of Transportation has recommended reducing the speed on West Broadway at Flynn Lane from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour.
“Their recommendation was to relocated the 45 speed limit zone west of Flynn Lane by 400 feet,” said Robertson. “People will be required to slow down as they approach Flynn Lane on West Broadway. Currently, it’s 55 mph.”
Dropping the speed may be the first of several improvements considered for the high-speed intersection. MDT has already forwarded a request to the state to evaluate the corner for possible geometric improvements that could see a traffic signal and reshaping the “skewed” intersection.
“It’s likely this will generate a safety enhancement project at some point in the future,” Robertson said.
Kimberly Donahue with Sammons Trucking welcomed the improvements. The trucking company is located on the corner of Flynn Lane and West Broadway, and the employees have had a front-row seat to a number of serious and sometimes fatal accidents.
One of those accidents resulted in the death of an employee’s mother-in-law. Other recent accidents have resulted in serious injuries.
“One day, one of my girls got in her car to go to lunch and saw a big collision,” said Donahue. “Flynn Lane goes to Hellgate School. There’s school buses and parents and a lot of traffic and it’s 55 mph at this intersection. To turn left, or west on Broadway, is very scary.”
Robertson said most of the accidents appear to result from a combination of speed and the cantered angle of the intersection. Straitening it, however, would require the state to purchase right-of-way.
“Virtually every accident that happens there is the left-hand-turn, right-angle collision,” he said. “That’s stark to me. Normally at a busy intersection like that you see a hodgepodge and no real accident trend. This one is really clear to me.”
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