By Bruce Friede
Seeley Lake,Mont. 

Council Misrepresents Community


SEELEY LAKE - I read the minutes of the Transportation Commissioners meeting for May 26, 2016 on the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) website. If you want to read them yourself,

I read that in three years there has only been 45 traffic stops, 67 citations and only eight of those were for speed, within this community study area. The Community Council read the MDT Traffic Study and did not like it so they did their own.

The results they published were that they had 330 responses to the study, 71 percent wanted change, 29 no change and that there is 2,000 community residents. They offered these numbers as large community support. The Community Council did not offer to qualify the signatures on the study responses as community members so we have to accept it to be true.

The chairman of the study offered and discussed what he gathered in the study. He said there was a fatality in front of the Lazy Pine Mall and he seems to take issue with the fact that the truck was not issued a citation but did say it was being operated at the speed limit. He also offered testimony that there was a fatality north at Big Larch on Highway 83. (I will not write about this out of respect for the family.)


He discussed that he is not an engineer and that his study was done because of community support and that largely was directed towards the Double Arrow entrance, but did say the flashing lights are now installed. He went on to discuss that “our vision” of what the community is transitioning to from a logging community.

What was very noticeable in this offered testimony is the committee, before the MDT Commission, has a VISION and they offered this VISION very often.

As this testimony continued, Chris Stout offered information that he is the School Superintendent and Chair of the Community Council. He offered his testimony that he lives on Double Arrow, he is trying to get the community to live healthy and he wants to change the appearance of the community and etc. When he pulls out onto Highway 83, the traffic is not heavy but they come up on him at 75 miles per hour and that’s not safe. He said, “We are trying to host a huge cross country meet that is bringing in teams from around the country. Seeley Lake is an unincorporated city so we can’t necessarily say no jake brakes, none of this, none of that, so you have people hitting that golf course where this is going to be hosted going 70 mph and YOU HAVE ALL OF THE NOISE.”

I took the time to call Double Arrow Manager Bonnie Philliber to ask about the meet and she knew nothing about it.

Stout went on to talk about the BOB MARSHALL MUSIC FESTIVAL where he’d hoped to bring in thousands of people. However, the speed limits were too high where he wanted to host it without some weekend traffic control.

He had not even asked to see if he could get a permit for this type of function which the MDT Commissioners told him they can get and that MDT would be there to help.

Commissioner Stacy Rye talked about following up this speed limit change with zoning and indicated that she has confidence in the Community Council to complete this task. She said that she hoped that the MDT Commission would share in this vision.

State Senator Sue Malek talked about the Maclean Trail from the Rattlesnake to Seeley Lake and said the Seeley Lake Community Foundation is working with the Missoula Community Foundation to complete it. The Senator then added, “The Seeley Lake Schools are planning and have started a Sporting Goods Store that is run by the schools. So they have references to services for the kids. Troubled kids are put to work in this store and taught about economic development.”

Senator Malek also asked MDT to “join us in this vision.” Apparently our State Senator doesn’t share the vision that if you own a private business, you should not have to compete with a taxpayer owned business. If they were in a business that no other business in the community was in, I might be a little more tolerant.

The facts are, the Community Council pulled out all of the stops and were less than truthful with their testimony before a State Agency’s Commissioners. They disregarded the fact that enforcement would have helped get the problems under control. They want everyone to share in “their vision” of what they want.

So what do you as a community want? Is this the direction we need to go, over regulation with concern to the traffic speed that we who live here year around live with?

People want the Double Arrow and Highway 83 junction to be safer. The speed limit was lowered from 70 to 60 and flashing lights were installed, yet people continue to pull out into 83 off of Double Arrow Road and they cause an accident. People drive north along the golf course passing other drivers exceeding the speed limit. How is that not an enforcement issue?

When a person pulls out on to the highway in front of a truck, regardless of the highway speed, you will probably be a statistic. Now the speed limit has been reduced from Riverview Drive to about Locust Lane because of the crosswalks. We are about to enter winter and there will not be any pedestrian traffic but you will still be forced to drive at 35 mph. That’s over regulation because the pedestrian issue is not there for six months of the year.

In the hearing minutes, Stout told the MDT Commissioners that we are plowing snow off of the bike trails now. Plowing the trail will kill snowmobile dollars that are coming into this community in the winter.

I’m on the record saying the trails should probably be connected but why did pedestrian operated flashing lights at the crosswalks not come up? That would have prevented the greatly reduced speed limits because drivers do see the flashing lights.

I want to put some perspective on this. For years the elementary teachers have taken the students to the Ice Cream Place along the highway, the track coaches would let the kids run along the highway down to the store and do the loop for track, the little kids were walking along the highway from the school to the Winterfest bonfire with torches (that I did not like). There are no speeding related accidents in Seeley Lake but there a lot of fender benders at the Post Office.

Stout told stories at the hearing before state officials. The one that gets me is, at no time did any of the other representatives of Seeley Lake correct him.

RIGHT IS RIGHT and WRONG IS WRONG! Where do you stand?

Speak up, call 406-444-7200, complain or write a letter to MDT.


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