U.S. Highway 20, otherwise known as Targhee Pass Highway, is renowned for its recreational access. Drivers can take the highway to Yellowstone National Park or have the opportunity to stop along the way at numerous lodging sites - from campgrounds and cabins to hotels and lodges.
This picturesque corridor has a rear-end crash pattern near Denny Creek Road. The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is working to enhance safety on this road through the Targhee Turn Lanes project. Engineering a safer drive saves lives and is a critical part of Vision Zero – MDT's initiative with the goal of zero fatalities and zero serious injuries on Montana's roadways.
The Targhee Turn Lanes project involves installing a center-turn-lane between Old U.S. 20 and Denny Creek Road, and a left-turn-lane at Denny Creek Road. The current project timeline estimates construction beginning between 2023 and 2025. Before that, the project will be under design, with engineers building the plans for construction and working with landowners on securing any needed right-of-way.
We all know a road that could benefit from a safety improvement. With thousands of miles of roadway to choose from, how does the Montana Department of Transportation determine what to construct and when?
If MDT had unlimited funding, those desired changes could come true. In reality, MDT has a limited budget with far more needs than funding available. Careful funding decisions must be made each year, with MDT prioritizing the highest needs across the state.
Where does the money come from?
Funding for MDT's projects overwhelmingly comes from the federal government, which provides anywhere from 87% to 100% on any given project. The state matches this contribution by providing up to 13% of state funds. The federal funding comes from multiple highway programs, each with specific uses and constraints. For this project, funds are coming from the Highway Safety Improvement Program.
The primary focus of the Highway Safety Improvement Program involves identifying locations where higher severity crashes have occurred and prioritizing work according to cost/benefit. Due to the data-driven approach, this program is competitive. Projects that increase safety, where costs do not outweigh benefits, are often moved forward. If road improvements are too costly and do not significantly address crashes, it is unlikely that those improvements would occur.
The Targhee Turn Lanes project is anticipated to cost between $3 and $4 million, with the federal government providing 90% of funds. This project competed statewide for limited safety funds. Based on an economic analysis that takes into account the project cost and the anticipated safety benefit, this project was nominated to proceed with design and construction. While other areas on Targhee Pass Highway may also benefit from similar work, funding is limited.
Stay in the Know
Public feedback is an important part of any project. The Montana Department of Transportation encourages the community to get involved and provide thoughts or suggestions for changes. Though the budget might not accommodate every change, all ideas are welcome and considered.
Contact us with your comments and questions below.
- Project Hotline: 406-207-4484, Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM