BILLINGS — Two intersections on Billings West End look different than they did one week ago. There's now a four-way stop at South 56th Street West and Neibauer Road and it's one of several intersections in the area getting facelifts.
Elmer Spidel loves managing 48th Street W Storage on South 48th Street West and Hesper Road.
“’Cuz I’ve always liked to meet people and stuff,” said Spidel on Monday.
However, if there's one thing he could change, it's that intersection.
“In the past year, I’ve seen at least five accidents on that intersection,” Spidel said.
It's a similar story throughout the area. More homes mean more traffic, and this intersection and many others, including two intersections at South 56th Street West— Neibauer Road and Hesper Road— have become hot spots for accident clusters.
“Both of those intersections have a fairly high accident rate. We’ve gotten calls from the general public with concerns about them, and we’ve had concerns too,” said Tim Miller, director of Billings Public Works.
That's why Miller said just last week, the county changed those intersections from two-way to four-way stops. A four-way stop was also added at 48th Street West and King Avenue West.
“There’s one more that we’re considering, and it’s at the intersection of 48th Street and Hesper so that’s another one that we’re looking it. We’re not quite there yet but we’re probably going to go that way,” Miller said.
“I would welcome it. It’s been needed,” said Spidel.
It's not the only improvement the county has made to make these intersections safer.
Speed limits in the area have been reduced to 50 miles an hour. Roundabouts could soon replace the four-way stops at 48th and King and 56th and Hesper.
“It’s a lot more expensive, but it moves traffic way better than a four-way stop,” Miller said.
It would cost $2 million to install a roundabout at 56th and Hesper. Montana Department of Transportation would handle the roundabout at 48th and King.
“Driver error happens all the time but even at the roundabouts, it’s not as severe as crashes. They're more glancing blows than they are direct contact so the accidents do happen but there are way less injuries than on a T intersection or a square intersection like that," said Miller.
“I’m just glad that they’re doing something about it,” Spidel said.