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Intersection Could Have Traffic Light Installed

MISSOULA -

Missoula city officials said the dangerous intersection at Dore Lane and Brooks Street will likely have a new traffic signal by next year.

City engineers said their recent study on traffic flow and safety issues -- called a warrant study -- was approved by the Montana Department of Transportation.

Engineers said the intersection will see even more traffic flow once Cabela's and Kohl's move into the old K-Mart site right behind me.

They said installing a traffic signal would improve safety for drivers and pedestrians.

City engineer Kevin Slovarp said around twenty vehicle crashes -- some that included fatalities -- occurred near the busy Dore-Brooks intersection between 2008 and 2011.

"Those fatalities have primarily been due to excessive speeding based on an impaired driver or two, so you don't really have an engineering solution that corrects that behavioral problem," Slovarp said.

City officials did submit a warrant study to MDT two years ago, in an attempt to put in a traffic signal to curb dangerous traffic flow. That first attempt was unsuccessful, but things changed when city officials announced a Cabela's Outpost and Kohl's Department Store would move into the old K-Mart site adjacent to the intersection.

"Based on those new volumes of traffic, warrants will likely be met, and so a signal looks like it's warranted," Slovarp said.

The city's second warrant study that included future traffic flow from the incoming big-name businesses was approved by MDT. Now, officials said a traffic signal is likely -- if Cabela's or Kohl's agrees to fund the project, which can cost hundreds of thousands -- or even millions -- of dollars.

"We've go to do something there that's going to calm the traffic down, slow it down, allow turning motions that are safe for pedestrians and vehicles," said Assistant Director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, Chris Behan.

Behan said the increased traffic flow due to the incoming big-name businesses creates an opportunity to increase overall traffic safety in midtown Missoula. Behan said the north end of Dore Lane near the Southgate Mall also has the potential to develop in the future.

"So, we have to figure out how that's all going to work together and try to do the lights right the first time," Behan said.

The MRA pitched in about $565,000 for the demolition of the old K-Mart site, and the organization is working with city engineers on the traffic reconfiguration project.

"And who knows, maybe people will actually walk around out there once it starts getting safe," Behan added.

City officials said they hope to have a traffic signal installed by the time Cabela's moves into this site next year.

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