Public meetings are a vital part of the project development process at MDT. Most projects consist of one informational public meeting to inform the public what is going on, to get their input, and to answer questions.
Due to the widely varied responses from the public concerning this project, the standard process has been revised. An initial informational public meeting for this project was held at the Roosevelt School in Red Lodge on Thursday, October 13th, 2005. At this meeting, the project design team presented the current plan to improve Highway 78 from milepost 0.00 to milepost 5.1. The plans presented at the meeting were preliminary, but presented a good idea of what MDT planned on doing to make this highway safer and more "user friendly". Meeting attendees were asked to comment on the project - let the design team know what they thought of the project and what their concerns are. The design team also answered questions concerning project specifics.
The primary topic covered at the meeting involved the two options to address the curves between mileposts 1.9 and 3.5. At this meeting an idea was presented to bypass the current route and connect to highway 212 a couple of miles north of Red Lodge. According to Montana state law, this idea constituted a bypass of the City of Red Lodge, requiring MDT to approach the Red Lodge City Council with the idea. This brought us to the next meeting.
The Red Lodge City Council convened a public meeting to discuss the bypass issue, and allow the public to express their comments. This meeting was held at the Red Lodge Senior Citizen's Center on Thursday, December 8th, 2005. MDT staff was also present at this meeting and provided aerial photography of the proposed route, as well as information about the project. After this meeting, the Red Lodge City Council chose to not allow the bypass to be constructed. The result of this decision is that the reconstruction project will connect to highway 212 at the same location and generally follow the current roadway up Brewery Hill to the top of the bench.
Another informational public meeting was held at the Roosevelt School in Red Lodge on Thursday, February 9th, 2006. At this meeting, MDT staff updated the public on the status of the project, informed the public that the bypass was denied by the Red Lodge City Council, and presented further project information. Some refined options for the curves between mileposts 1.9 and 3.5 were also presented at this meeting. Those in attendance expressed concerns for all options presented. It was apparent after this meeting that a consensus would not be reached for any of the options, so MDT decided to proceed to the next step. HKM Engineering was contracted to conduct an independent analysis of the options.
A decision has been made as a result of the Alternative Analysis completed by HKM Engineering. See the Frequently Asked Questions page for details on this decision. Design was further refined based on this Analysis, additional survey, and meetings with individual landowners, special interest groups, and various local government entities. This brought us to the last public meeting.
On Thursday, November 4th, 2010, MDT conducted an open house forum to show area citizens what the proposed plan now is for the project. Aerial photography, design details, and other visual displays were presented at that meeting. In addition, two staff members from MDT were on hand to answer questions. The project was explained, questions were answered, and further information was gathered. Thanks to all who attended any of these meetings. The input we received at these meetings was extremely helpful for designing a highway improvement project that works for everyone.
This concludes the public forum – type meetings for this project. Any further inquiries will be addressed on a person-to-person basis. The next contact that landowners adjacent to the project can expect is when we reach the right-of-way phase of the project process. At that time, a representative from MDT will contact you concerning right-of-way needs from your property. We look forward to talking to each of you at that time.