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 dogs, 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.
This project is in response to a request received from community leaders to relocate the Bozeman rest area due to limited space and opportunity for expansion to meet demand and safety needs. In response to that and paired with a public/private partnership “property trade” idea posed to MDT, the taxpayers of Montana will receive a new, state-of-the-art rest area at very low cost. The location in close proximity to the intersection of I 90 and US 287 also offers a more logical location for the traveling public.
TranPlanMT 2017 public involvement received identified improving rest area availability and condition as a high priority.
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