BILLINGS- A roundabout at the intersection of Montana highway 3 and Zimmerman Trail is set to start construction July 16, and the road is already closed for about a mile of reconstruction.
The two projects combined are costing about $8.17 million.
"There has been an increase in crashes at this intersection in the last two years," said Becky Bey of KLJ, the consultant handling public information officer for the project. "Also just to improve mobility. They are anticipating increased traffic on Highway 3 over the next years and roundabout typically help with mobility. What we know about roundabouts just in general is that when they are installed they tend to… reduce crashes by about 68 percent."
Bey also said according to studies done in 2015, four accidents occurred at that intersection and 12 in 2017, a tripling in just two years.
The Zimmerman Trail work will widen the existing road improve drainage, signs and an updated guardrail.
Overall, the project aims to improve safety and mobility of the roadway and intersection and extend the useful life of the Zimmerman Trail.
And when it comes to the reason for the roundabout? Bey said it’s all about "safety first."
"It certainly is about growth and just increased traffic and growth in Billings," Bey added. "It’s certainly part of a larger project to really look at mobility in the Billings area, particularity in the west end. That includes some mobility for non-motorized transportation. So bicycles and pedestrians, so this is kind of the first project of several projects that you’re probably going to see increase that mobility for both vehicles and bikes and pedestrians"
People have been biking and walking on Zimmerman Trail while it’s closed, but officials warn it’s unsafe to go anywhere near the trail until it’s open again in the late fall.