A new flashing crosswalk beacon was installed on N. 25th and Montana Avenue in downtown Billings Thursday morning, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the afternoon. Members of the Historic Montana Avenue Association (HMAA) and others gathered to celebrate this project to improve safety and walkability on Montana Avenue.
Max Griffin with Griffin Development on the corner of Montana Avenue. He says the crosswalks on Montana Avenue are unsafe for visibility reasons. Cars don’t always see pedestrians trying to walk the street, and pedestrians cannot always see drivers. Since Montana Avenue is a three-lane street, it can be hard to alert drivers that someone is trying to cross the road. These new flashing beacons can help drivers see if someone is trying to use the crosswalk. Griffin adds that the goal is to install at least 2-4 more beacons for the Montana Avenue neighborhood to continue the mission to improve pedestrian walkability and safety.
Debi Meling with the Billings Public Works Department says this project has been a topic for the last ten years. Citizens have also expressed safety concerns on this historic street. Since the street runs through a state highway, Public works and HMAA worked with the Montana Department of Transportation to make the project a reality. These flashing beacons have shown success in other areas of town, helping drivers see someone trying to cross the road.
After receiving a grant from the Downtown Billings Alliance, the HMAA reached out to Public Works to get everything approved for the project. These new flashing beacons will improve drivers’ visibility on this three-way street. Other safety efforts have been implemented, including hiring a security guard to patrol Montana Avenue. Meling adds they may install four more beacons depending on how well this crosswalk is received. Several upcoming projects are planned for Montana Avenue and downtown Billings. Along with the Montana Department of Transportation, to preserve road conditions on Montana Avenue over the next few years. Another upcoming project is the conversion of a one-way to a two-way in the main part of downtown.
Shortly after the ribbon cutting, drivers began stopping on the street when the flashing beacon was in use, showing these beacons will likely help pedestrians cross the road safely.