Jackrabbit Lane in Belgrade, Mont., doesn’t have the legs to move traffic when a train is moving through, so the Montana Department of Transportation has a plan in place.
The ultimate solution is to construct either an underpass or overpass near Main Street on Jackrabbit Lane, but that is years away, so for now changes will be made to traffic signals and lanes will be added. Over 50 trains move through Belgrade a day, and when the railroad crossing arms are down traffic backs up quickly.
Montana Department of Transportation officials originally were against separating car traffic from train traffic, but public input changed the decision.
Jackrabbit Lane will be widened from three lanes to five lanes (two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane) from Madison Avenue to Main Street. Design will include land surveying, plan creation, environmental reviews and right-of-way acquisition, and will take years to develop.
Crews will install groundwater wells around the railroad crossing to see if an underpass can be constructed.
Jackrabbit Lane will have signal upgrades or additions at the I-90 West offramp, Madison Avenue, Amsterdam Road, and Main Street. Traffic signal work also will be conducted at Amsterdam Road at the I-90 East offramp and at Thorpe Road. A traffic signal will be added at Broadway and Main Street. Work is expected to start in 2023 or 2024.
The cost of the project is expected to be $10-20 million, and the Montana Department of Transportation is not including it in its current five-year funding plan. The state will need assistance in funding the project.