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Sheriff: Many unknowns about new rest area

With the Headwaters Rest Area near the intersection of Interstate 90 and US 287 set to open sometime this summer, Broadwater County Sheriff Nick Rauser said there are many unknowns about the facility.

In an interview last week, Rauser explained he is a 'prepare for the worst hope for the best type of person', and while he does think there will be an increase in calls, he isn't sure the rest area will be as popular as the recently closed one on 19th Avenue in Bozeman. Rauser said that anytime something brings more people into an area -- you will get more calls –- he doesn't know what the level will be like at the new rest area.

"Some of this is just unknown to me," said Rauser. "It's kind of a weird spot to me to have a rest stop. Most of them are along the Interstates. This one, you have to get off in Three Forks and go down the road a little way to get to it."

While a member of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Rauser said he patrolled the rest area on I-15 in the north part of the county, and they did not have a lot of calls with that one, adding that facility was not open year-round like the one soon to open in Three Forks.

Because of the location of the new rest area, Rauser said he assumes a lot of people would pull off and go to the Town Pump because they have places to park trucks, gas, food, and a lounge.

The biggest safety concern for Rauser is the road and semis pulling in and out. Rauser said they did fix the road to address this but wishes they would have done a better job.

"It is better than it was. Hopefully, that does help," he said.

Rauser understands why residents who live in the area are concerned about the new facility, and at this point, they are waiting to see what happens when the facility opens.

The rest area includes a law enforcement office that is open for use by the BCSO, Montana Highway Patrol, and MDT Motor Carrier Services.

Rauser said it would be nice to be able to use the office space to conduct interviews and write reports.

"Right now, we have nothing down there. If we have to interview, we pull them into our patrol cars. It will be nice to have somewhat more of a professional area where you can have a good conversation without sitting in a patrol car," he said.