Letter to the Editor - There’s no cure for stupid

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the Central Montana Veterans Roundabout project. I attended the meeting held in Lewistown in January 2017, along with approximately 200 other attendees. The majority of the public comment centered around opposition to the roundabout. I also oppose such a project.

While I understand the safety issue surrounding the intersections of Highways 87, 200 and 19 and realize that lives have been lost in that location, I do not feel a roundabout is the solution. According to a news report in the Lewistown News-Argus, Nov. 4, cameras had been installed in the intersections. Footage was reviewed, and drivers fell into one of three categories: 1) they did not stop at the intersection at all; 2) they came to a rolling stop; or 3) some actually came to a full stop.

I would challenge the MDT to conduct the same type of assessment at any stop sign – either in a town, along a highway, or gravel county road. From my experience driving around Montana, I guess the data would be nearly the same as they found at the Grass Range intersection.

What is especially disheartening is the public is adamant about stopping this project, yet the public’s voice seems to be ignored. The project was put on hold, but only for nine-10 months. Some other solutions could have been explored.

It’s easy to complain about a problem and not bring any solutions to the table. Instead of simply complaining about this situation, I will offer a solution. 

If MDT already has cameras installed at the intersections of highways 87, 200 and 19, why not take the cameras one step further? If highways in other states can take pictures of peoples’ license plates and send them a bill, could the MDT use a camera at this intersection, take pictures of license plates on vehicles that do not make a complete stop and mail them a ticket? Not only will this encourage people to follow the law at this intersection, but it would also earn valuable revenue for Fergus County.

I hope you continue to listen to the public’s input on this issue. I don’t think this intersection will ever be 100 percent accident or fatality free. Drivers are human; humans break the law and do stupid things. Unfortunately, until the MDT finds a way to cure stupid, accidents will still occur no matter how safe a project is deemed.

Paul Jensen

Lewistown

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