MDT meeting May 23, rest area opening soon
May 10, 2023
The Montana Department of Transportation is hosting a public meeting on May 23 in Townsend with Butte Operations Manager Gino Liva on hand to update and answer questions from area residents.
In a Facebook post to county residents, Commissioner Debi Randolph said there are all kinds of rumors about what MDT will or won't be doing in Broadwater County and invited them to the meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Flynn Building at 416 Broadway.
Along with possible future plans in Broadwater County, many "Wheatland" area residents may attend the meeting to once again voice concerns about the controversial Headwaters Rest Area.
In press releases issued last week, MDT announced the closure of the Bozeman Rest Area on May 1 and that the Headwaters Rest Area near the I90/US 287 interchange in Broadwater County would be opening the facility as soon as possible, pending the completion of some final facility details.
A May 2 MDT release says the project team for the rest area has made safety a top priority with the design of the new facility, which includes open sight lines for patrolling, license plate-reading, security cameras, and LED lighting throughout the interior and exterior of the rest area facility and parking lot.
"A feature that is not typically included in rest areas, but that will serve nearby communities, is the addition of a Law Enforcement Office that will be available for use by the Broadwater County Sheriff, Montana Highway Patrol, and MDT Motor Carrier Services. Coordination with those agencies is ongoing; all are planning to use the space when opened," states the release.
A vocal opponent of the rest area since he learned it would be relocated to Broadwater County, "Wheatland" area resident Justin Brewer, expressed his disappointment with the release.
"If the project team had safety as a top priority, they would have listened to the community and not built it right by a residential area and with no plan in place for traffic control. MDT needs to stop claiming to have our best interest at heart or to have listened to the community's concerns. They could at least be honest enough to state that they bullied us into this monstrosity," Brewer said.
There has been strong opposition to the rest area since the MDT announced the proposed "design-build" project that provides a property exchange for the 19th Avenue Rest Area in Bozeman.
Following public meetings in the summer of 2021, a petition created to halt the rest area received over 1,000 signatures.
More background on the Headwaters Rest Area can be found at https://www.threeforksvoice.com/story/2021/07/28/news/petition-aims-to-put-a-halt-to-rest-area/1306.html.