The Cost of Improving Bozeman’s Transportation Infrastructure

    It’s great to see Bozeman, Montana grow and prosper as a thriving community, but there’s always a catch to population growth—traffic.

    The city expects that by 2040, Gallatin County will have 77,000 new residents, 36,000 housing units, along with 48,000 new jobs. Even if all of Bozeman’s road projects on its 5-year plan are completed, the city projects that traffic will still overcrowd major streets like Huffine, College, Griffin, 19th and 11th Avenue

    The Cost of Adding Traffic Capacity

    The city is well-aware of the challenge ahead to accommodate for Bozeman’s rapid growth, and they found that the cost would be staggering. According to actual construction bids, a standard two-lane road in Bozeman, with curbs, bike lanes and sidewalks, costs about $2.2 million per mile. Four lane roads are more than double the cost, at roughly $5 million per mile.

    Upgraded intersections are also incredibly expensive. A large traffic signal was estimated to cost about $2.4 million, and a roundabout would cost about $2.9 million.

    If the city follows through with every project that it has planned for Bozeman for over next 25 years, the total cost would amount to an estimated $380 million. This plan includes 58 major street network upgrades ($174 million), more than 42 miles of new roads ($129 million), and 53 “system management” projects, which mostly includes intersection upgrades ($77 million).

    How Can We Mitigate These Costs?

    With such a high price tag for new roads and intersections, it’s understandable that the city is so conservative about starting new construction projects. Fortunately, with the exception of Rouse Avenue north of Peach Street and Kagy Boulevard between 19th and Seventh, Bozeman’s streets are still big enough to handle their current traffic volumes, according to the engineers working on the plan.

    To minimize the need to sacrifice hard-earned tax-payer dollars, the city encourages drivers to use alternative transportation options.

    One option, of course, is to have more commuters walk or ride a bike. However, while this may work for the summer months (which wouldn’t help much because school is out for summer anyways), we wouldn’t see many people enduring the brunt of winter just to get to work or school.

    Another more practical idea is to break up the typical 9 to 5 work schedule. City planners are currently working with researchers at the Western Transportation Institute (an affiliate of Montana State University) to coordinate alternating work schedules with employers in attempt to calm the intensity of rush hour traffic.

    For those that simply have no other option, they can try to plan a route around the most congested intersections. For your reference, below are some the most overloaded intersections to avoid:

    • Baxter and Davis
    • Babcock and Ferguson
    • Kagy and Seventh
    • Kagy and Sourdough

    Here are also several intersections that are most prone to crashes:

    • Valley Center Spur and Frontage Road
    • 19th Avenue and Goldenstein
    • Willson and Peach

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