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City boosting traffic safety on Lake Elmo Drive in Billings Heights

Parents requested help to slow speeders
City of Billings Public Works
Posted at 9:24 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 23:47:56-04

BILLINGS — The city of Billings is planning to add new trafficsafety measures on a dangerous stretch of Lake Elmo Drive.

The decision was sparked by a citizen submitting an online form through the Public Works website in May. Members of the Billings City Council also received emails from concerned citizens regarding the street, according to a city news release.

At least two children have been hit by cars on Lake Elmo Drive in 2022 while making their way to school.

One mother says that she believes many use Lake Elmo Drive as a through street, although the road mostly consists of residential homes.

The city stated in the release that engineers have been surveying and planning changes to the street since May.

"A portion of Lake Elmo Drive is parallel to Bench Elementary School, so many of the recommendations by Public Works focus on student safety," the press release states.

City Engineer Mac Fogelsong said Wednesday that about 10-20 kids typically cross Lake Elmo Drive daily.

School buses also stop on both sides of the street to minimize children crossing the busy road.

A 25-mile-per-hour school zone, along with flashing beacons, will be added to Milton Road. Another flashing beacon will also be installed by the crosswalk at Uinta Park Drive and Lake Elmo Drive.

Fogelsong explains that these flashing beacons are already used in other parts of the city, and they are effective.

"We found that folks are really using those, the kids are focused there, and drivers are noticing those, so they’re really effective," Fogelsong explains.

But that's not all.

The city also states there is a dangerous curve near the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks building on Lake Elmo. To minimize accidents, the city will also be adding signs and striping to warn drivers of this curve.

"There’s kind of that short radius curve there. The drive’s a little tough if you’re driving too fast," Fogelsong says. "So we’re updating some signage and things in that area to kind of make it a more safe curve, so people know maybe if they’re out of the area that there’s a sharp curve coming."

The city is also recommending a crossing guard at Bench Elementary School, along with other guidelines for motorists in Billings.

“Kind of recommending some folks parking on Lake Elmo north of Wicks Lane, just to kind of help that traffic calming effect," Fogelsong explains.

Drivers should also be wary when driving through school zones, even if minimal signage is posted, city officials suggest.

These improvements are being paid for with annual programs and operating funds.

And as for timing, these projects have varying deadlines.

“We’re going to try to do the signage and striping up near the actual lake, hopefully shortly here, weather permitting," Fogelsong says. "Some of the crossings and the school zone is probably going to be next year with the equipment orders and those types of things. So probably in the spring."

Heights parents called for action, and the city is working on results.