Truck Limits Sought for Highway 35 After Tanker Spill

By Beacon Staff

POLSON – The director of the Montana Department of Transportation is exploring whether the state can impose limits on large truck traffic on Highway 35, where a tanker truck overturned and spilled almost 6,400 gallons of gasoline near Flathead Lake last week.

DOT spokeswoman Charity Watt Levis said director Jim Lynch has asked his staff to research the options.

“We are looking into, from a safety perspective, if we could control the truck traffic better,” she said.

Limits of trucks on the road have long been sought by many east shore residents, who say a much wider and safer route runs along the west shore.

But Spook Stang, executive vice president of the Montana Motor Carriers Association, said the industry would oppose any effort to limit the trucks that can travel Highway 35.

“The thing is, the same people who don’t want to see trucks on Highway 35 demand the services trucks deliver,” he said. “Virtually everything in Montana is delivered by trucks, from groceries to gas, and we have to have the ability to deliver it — not just to do it, but to do it efficiently.”

Many truckers prefer the east shore route because it’s more level than Highway 93, which runs along the lake’s west shore.

The highway was closed for almost six hours April 2 after a tanker truck crashed near the Finley Point turnoff. Crews continue to clean up the fuel spill.