BILLINGS — Montana Avenue and North 24th Street in Billings is a tough place to cross the street for pedestrians. A brand new crosswalk unveiled Thursday aims to change that.
"I’ve jumped out of the way. It is severe and I'm surprised more people haven't been hurt," said Jen Marble, owner of the Marble Table restaurant in Billings.
The traffic is a sign that downtown activity is improving, but she mentioned that it's a "worry for her and her customers."
"What happens is you’ll stop at the crosswalk and one person, the first lane will stop out of the three, the second person really doesn’t see you until they see you at the last minute and that third person? They’re going right through because they can't see," added Marble.
Several solutions to improve safety downtown are in the works, beginning with the lighted crosswalk, which is one of potentially four coming to Montana Avenue.
"This is really a test case so, what we’re hoping is we’ll be able to track compliance, we’ll be able to see the results and see people actually slowing down to allow pedestrians to cross in a safer way. And that will help gauge the status for how quickly we can get the others up," said Michelle Williams, a member of the Montana Avenue Association.
In addition to the crosswalks, the association has hired private security for portions of the street and LED upgrades to the streetlights as well.
"We’ve been trying to tackle this project for a very long time, but because it’s a state highway it just adds a little bit of complication to it. The process was to get the grant funding through Downtown Billings Alliance and that had to go to (city) council to get approved. And then we had to get the project approved through the state and then today we got everything installed," added Williams.