Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Residents lobby for Gannett facelift

Road stripes are ‘a matter of safety’


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Some county residents want Gannett Road restriped, and they've made it clear they are not willing to wait.

"Putting off the chip-seal is one thing," said Julie Cord, Blaine County resident, at last week's Tuesday meeting of the Blaine County Commission. "Putting off the striping is another. It's a matter of safety."

Gannett Road connects Highway 20 with Highway 75 just south of Bellevue and east of Timmerman Junction, making it a popular shortcut for Carey and Picabo commuters each day. Users of the road have said it's impossible to see the fog line at the right-hand edge of the road at night or in bad weather, causing concern that commuters might go off the road once it begins snowing.

"I know it's an expense and no one wants to spend the money," Cord said. "But when it can save a life, it's important."

Restriping the road would cost approximately $10,000, said Char Nelson, Blaine County director of operations

County officials agreed a change was necessary during a follow-up discussion on Tuesday, after Blaine County Commissioner Tom Bowman and County Administrator Derek Voss had driven the road.

"Overall, it's probably a B-minus or a C-plus, but there are some sections that are a D," Bowman said.

The county has several alternatives to re-striping the road that would allow drivers to see the edge of the asphalt in rough weather or at night. Voss suggested stakes with reflective markers that would indicate the side of the road.

Stakes would be more durable than reflective tape—another alternative—or repainting the lines, Nelson said. The cost of installation would be similar to the cost of restriping.

Voss said he thinks the stakes might be the best option, as they should not affect the scheduled 2012 chip-seal project and would remain visible even with a significant amount of snowfall.

"That's what they are asking for, just 'let me know where the road is!'" Voss said during Tuesday's meeting. "[With stripes], you get a quarter inch of snow, I can't see the road."

Nelson said she would check into the cost of the options and report back to the board next week.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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