Montana Department of Transportation

MDT News

U.S. Highway 12 East Helena "Viaduct"


MDT plans 2018 safety improvements to U.S.
Highway 12 East Helena "Viaduct"

Public invited to February 6 open

February 1, 2018 - Helena, Mont. -The Montana Department of
Transportation will share its plans for U.S. Highway 12 safety
improvements at a public open house on Tuesday, February 6, from 3 -
7 p.m. at the East Helena Volunteer Fireman's Hall, 2 East Pacific

Representatives from MDT and DOWL, a civil engineering and
public involvement firm, will be on hand to answer questions about
the planned 2018 construction for the area known locally as the
"viaduct" and will present a project overview at 3 and 5:30 p.m.

During annual analysis of historic crash data, 75 crashes were
documented from 2005 to 2014 on the section of roadway, and in 2016,
MDT's safety engineers identified the roadway for potential
improvements and federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funding. 

"Roadway improvements could not have prevented all of those
crashes," said Roy Peterson, MDT traffic and safety engineer. "But we
determined that engineering improvements that separated opposing
lanes of traffic, enhanced visibility of all traffic lanes,
delineated the center of the roadway and increased traction on the
bridge surface would benefit drivers - especially those who are
unfamiliar with the area or driving in inclement weather."

In April or May 2018, MDT's contracted crews will install concrete 
barriers on the bridge / viaduct. From July to November 2018, the majority 
of construction work will happen, including installation of a raised
median at the center of the roadway, new lighting, improved signage
and concrete panel replacement. And the bridge deck of the viaduct
will undergo surface treatment to improve traction and reduce

The project cost is being funded through the Highway Safety 
Improvement Program, a federal program aimed at significantly
reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads.
The program requires states to follow a data-driven, strategic
approach for the selection and prioritization of safety improvement
projects that identifies roadway safety issues and effective
engineering solutions. 

Under the program guidelines, each year MDT conducts data analysis 
of previous years' crashes to identify crash patterns on the state's 
public roads. Sections of road that indicate reoccurring or a high 
level of crashes that may have addressable engineering solutions go 
through in-person field review and in-depth evaluation of the costs, 
benefits and effectiveness of proposed design and construction improvements. 

"Each year MDT is able to fund 50 - 70 roadway safety projects through 
the Highway Safety Improvement Program," Peterson said. "These projects 
have been very effective in reducing serious injury and fatal crashes, 
and the process from selection to construction is usually two to four years."

MDT nominated the section of roadway on U.S. Highway 12 in East
Helena for safety improvement funding at the beginning of 2017. Since
project approval by the Montana Transportation Commission and Federal
Highway Administration in spring 2017, MDT personnel have undertaken
the design and survey work needed to complete most of the roadway
improvements during the upcoming construction season. 

Montana's goal of Vision Zero is moving the state toward zero deaths and zero
injuries on all Montana roads through education, enforcement, engineering 
and emergency medical response. Because one life lost is one too many, 
MDT and its partners are united in their mission to save lives on Montana 
roads. But they can't do this alone - they need the public's help. 
Commit to Vision Zero and make work zone safety a priority. 

More information about Montana highway safety programs
can be found at 
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