Rest areas play an important role in the statewide transportation network by providing safe stopping opportunities along Montana's highways, contributing toward the goal of Vision Zero. Rest area activities such as walking, using a mobile device, sleeping, resting, and eating can aid in combating drowsy and distracted driving, potentially reducing crashes. Rest areas also offer safe places to stop during weather events and road closures, offer an enclosed area to walk pets and support the tourism and trucking industries by offering hospitality to out-of-state motorists. Rest areas rank among the highest transportation need in the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) bi-annual public survey. MDT's TranPlanMT 2017 received public involvement comments that identified improving rest area availability and condition as a high priority.
MDT, in partnership with the Montana Rest Area JV Partners (a C.A. Rickert and Associates Inc./Diamond Construction Joint Venture) team, will be constructing a new rest area near Three Forks. This new rest area will include many modern design and safety improvements including open sight lines for patrolling, security cameras, and LED lighting throughout the interior and exterior areas. The new rest area will ultimately replace the dated and undersized rest area located at the 19th Avenue interchange in Bozeman.
MDT is coordinating with the design and construction team to add a law enforcement office space to the Headwaters Rest Area design. Conversations are ongoing with the Broadwater County Sheriff, Montana Highway Patrol, and MDT Motor Carrier Services who have all expressed support and interest in using the shared workspace to better serve the southern end of Broadwater County. This accommodation will be the first of its kind in the state of Montana.
The proposed law enforcement office will have space for up to four desks for law enforcement personnel use.
The new facility will be located north of I 90 on the west side of US 287, just north of existing commercial development.
A study in Minnesota noted that "Single-vehicle truck crash densities increase during all times of the day at distances greater than 30 miles beyond a rest area."
Based on this research, it was concluded that:
- Spacing Minnesota interstate rest areas at 30 miles or less will reduce drowsy driving-related crashes
- Increasing truck parking spaces at Minnesota interstate rest areas will reduce crashes and costs associated with crashes
- Providing adequate rest area truck parking effectively reduces costs related to highway crashes as demonstrated by a cost savings ratio of 1.61