What Exactly is the Deal with Construction in Billings Heights?
Let's face it, nobody likes slowing down or stopping on the way to work because of road construction. It's in my top five list of worst things that could happen if you're late for work. And as someone who lives in the Heights, the construction that has been going on up and down Main Street has been debilitating for myself and other commuters.
I experienced a backup on Lake Elmo Rd. that stretched for miles one morning when Rimrock Rd. was closed at 27th St. It increased my commute by 15 minutes. So, what are the crews doing, and why is it causing massive traffic pileups?
Replacing Raised Medians
One of the major reasons for lane closures is the replacement of the outdated and, sometimes, damaged medians that line the nearly 3-mile stretch of Main Street. This is designed to better prevent drivers from going over the medians and into oncoming traffic by removing and replacing the concrete that was many years old.
These medians also had turn lanes into business on Main Street, which also had to be re-painted.
Construction of ADA Compliant Intersections
The sidewalk corners and walk sign buttons on Main Street's corners weren't always ADA Compliant. The Americans with Disabilities Act was established in 1990 to curb discrimination between the able and disabled populations in the United States. One of the main subjects of the ADA is to make public transportation and sidewalks easier to use for someone who may be hard of vision, hearing, or motor functions.
Some of the changes being made include adding a lower dip on sidewalk corners to allow for wheelchair and motor scooter access, adding accessible walk sign push buttons and putting yellow reflective tape around the edges of the stoplights to enable drivers and pedestrians to better see them in the dark or if they have vision difficulties.
Where will this affect Heights commuters?
According to the Montana Department of Transportation, commuters can expect to see traffic delays and at least two-lane traffic both ways on 1st Avenue North on the southeast end to the intersection at US 287/Bench Boulevard on the northeast end. Any paving that needs done will be done at night to avoid large traffic delays during peak driving times. The project is expected to be completed by the Fall or early Winter.
If you would like more information on this traffic project, you can find a comment form and detailed information here.