Malfunction junction mend? - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Malfunction junction mend?

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The city of Helena is looking to reconstruct two chaotic five-point intersections. They're so chaotic, they've even earned the  term malfunction junction.

No one has been hit in either area this year. However, long wait times encourage some people to jay walk. Plus, the cross walks can be very confusing.
 
"They aren't extremely dangerous right now because the amount of traffic. You aren't getting the high speeds that can come in there, but it is an obstruction to pedestrians," said Ryan Leland, City Engineer.

However, public safety isn't the main push for altering routes. Two groups: the six-point neighborhood and the Business Improvement District say the street layouts limit access to businesses and homes in the areas.


They B.I.D. would like to make Last Chance Gulch a two way street and the neighborhood would like to see some traffic redirected. However, the solution isn't that simple.

"We don't really have an ideal solution because there's several solutions that are out there. Whichever one that will actually work for the community is what we
ll have to look at," said Leland.

He says says a roundabout might fix the downtown intersection. It's also possible an underpass could be installed to fix the intersection near Helena High. However, these solutions don't come cheap. It
ll cost up to $15 million to fix mini-malfunction junction, while its big brother could cost up to $30 million to mend.

To get something like that we're either going to have to pass a very major bond, which its going to be hard to have a community this size do it, or we're going to have to get federal grants, and that can take a long time to be able to do," said Leland.  

Robert Peccia and Associates are in the process of being hired to conduct the study, which could take about 12 months to complete. After that, Leland says it could be years before these malfunction junctions flow smoothly.

Similar studies on the area have been conducted in the past. Leland says the difference this time is Helena has a city commission whose not going to invest in  a study without really trying to fund the project.

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