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New train underpass to ease Belgrade traffic

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PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

BELGRADE – Commuting on Jackrabbit Lane is expected to become easier in the coming years. The Montana Department of Transportation announced today that the Montana Transportation Commission recently approved a change in scope for the Jackrabbit – Madison to Main project. This change will add an underpass on Jackrabbit Lane at the railroad crossing near Main Street. Once built, vehicles will be able to pass beneath the train tracks, limiting congestion.

The next step involves assigning the project design to a consultant in order to develop engineering plans for the revised project. MDT anticipates selecting a consultant engineering firm in the coming months.

“MDT has heard so much great feedback from this region about pedestrian access, area development, and more vehicles than ever utilizing this major thoroughfare,” William Fogarty, Butte District Administrator for the Montana Department of Transportation, said. “Providing a separated crossing beneath the railroad tracks came up frequently during those conversations. We did not want to jump ahead of ourselves without understanding the risks associated with adding a railroad underpass and having full approval. Now that we have that, we couldn’t be more excited to see this happen.”

The original Jackrabbit – Madison to Main project called for expanding Jackrabbit Lane to a five-lane roadway, from Madison Avenue to Main Street, which is still included in the plans. This project was expected to undergo construction around 2023, but with the addition of the railroad underpass, work has been delayed in order to complete the comprehensive design process and identify funding sources. Based on these factors, construction could be considered as soon as 2026 however, funding and the development schedule will ultimately dictate when construction begins. 

With the addition of the underpass, the Jackrabbit – Madison to Main project is estimated to cost as much as $25 million. MDT will work closely with multiple partners in order to identify available funding. The vast majority (80 to 90 percent) is expected to come from federal dollars.

“Incorporating community feedback involves balancing needs with funding,” Fogarty said. “We’re looking forward to more conversations with residents and project stakeholders as the project moves forward.”

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