Comment Planned for Montana 35 Truck Traffic

By Beacon Staff

POLSON – The director of the state Department of Transportation said Wednesday he hopes to gather public comment about truck traffic on Montana 35, where a tanker truck crashed and spilled almost 6,400 gallons of gasoline earlier this month.

Jim Lynch said that through public comment, the DOT can make recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration.

“I’m not going to let it meander along,” he said. “But I just finished our final conversation with the feds, so nothing is set yet. What we’re going to do now is solidify the process, and find out the things they’re going to want to see.”

Some residents on the east shore of Flathead Lake have called for limiting the types of trucks and the cargo they’re allowed to carry on the narrow highway. Instead, they want traffic to be diverted to the wider U.S. Highway 93.

Those calls intensified April 2 when a tanker truck overturned in a ditch and released almost 6,400 gallons of gasoline near the lake.

Five families near the crash site have been forced to abandon their lakeside homes because of unsafe levels of gas vapors found after the crash.

But representatives of the trucking industry say they’ll oppose any efforts to impose limits on Montana 35 because it would obstruct interstate commerce.

Lynch said he hopes to have a plan for public comment within a month.

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