LOLO - Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) engineers have watched traffic volumes increase on Highway 93 south of Missoula for more than a decade, knowing that growth in the Bitterroot was putting the crunch on safety.
But finding solutions and money is complicated. However, now MDT is re-booting the process of identifying those solutions, and ultimately making changes.
When the Montana Department of Transportation last looked at Highway 93 in 2008 the ideas ran out of funding.
Now, with a lot more traffic, the state is going to take another look at what could be done to improve safety.
Those safety issues have always been an issue during the winter months, as the highway can frequently be snarled when drivers run afoul of the stretch of highway between Lolo and Florence.
That area is especially susceptible to sudden storms.
But as the Bitterroot grows, so does the traffic, making it especially hazardous for people coming out of the side roads.
While MDT installed "mumble strips" to try and prevent head-ons last year, there's still little separation between traffic.
MDT announced this week it's hiring consultants for a corridor study to look at options.
That will analyze intersection problems, study environmental impacts and collect updated traffic data with outreach to the public and businesses to get their ideas.
It will take at least a year for the design ideas to be finalized, and then even longer to find funding.
In the meantime, people will have to continue to use a lot of caution, especially at the busy intersections on Highway 93.