Crash Renews Debate on Montana Hwy 35 Truck Traffic

By Beacon Staff

POLSON – The debate on whether to allow truck traffic on a narrow highway along the east shore of Flathead Lake has been renewed after another tractor trailer crashed and caught fire, injuring the driver.

The accident, which was reported at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, was about 200 yards from the site of a 2008 fuel truck crash that forced five families to evacuate their homes near Montana 35 for several months. Two other trucks have crashed in the area in the last couple of years.

Residents have complained about the problem for almost 35 years, since a similar accident involving a fuel truck resulted in an explosion that burned down a nearby home.

Jim Lynch, director of the Montana Department of Transportation, has said environmental risks need to be assessed before a decision on truck traffic can be reached. Many truckers prefer Montana 35 to the wider, safer and more modern U.S. 93 because it is more level and saves them time and money.

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