More information is better than less on proposed truck stop

Editor:

Kudos to those members of the Livingston City Commission who asked enough questions during the Nov. 18 meeting to prompt a call for an impact study of the proposed Love’s truck stop at Highway 10/89 and Interstate 90 east of the city. It is prudent to drop into a lower gear and slow down so that the community can have a complete picture of what Love’s proposes.

In accepting this request from the commission, the city manager indicated the administration hadn’t done such a report in the time he’s been in Livingston so it’s not clear what form it will take. Nonetheless, enough questions were raised by the commissioners to identify some of the major areas for inquiry.

Likely some of those questions emerged from the confused and ill-prepared remarks to the commission from Love’s representative Kym Van Dyke of Ogden, Utah. You can listen for yourself to the recording of this part of the meeting on the city website starting at about 23 minutes. Van Dyke’s confusion comes at about 28 minutes when he asks the city manager what he should talk about. Coming to Van Dyke’s aid was the better-prepared Jeremy Olson of Gaston Engineering in Bozeman, the project engineer. 

Love’s wants to locate in Park County to provide a refueling site for I-90 truckers travelling between Fargo, N.D., and Post Falls, Idaho. As a means of building brand loyalty, the company provides volume discounts to drivers; there is a “refueling hole” for Love’s in Montana and the company wants to fill it.

One of the topics discussed at the meeting was the amount of traffic arriving at the proposed truck stop from the I-90 Mile 337 interchange, and whether the cloverleaf would safely handle the projected daily seasonal-average increase of at least 300 semi-trucks and 1,500 passenger vehicles.

Olson said a traffic study was submitted to the Montana Department of Transportation. “There was a traffic-impact study that was done and prepared to the standards of what MDT was looking for,” he said. (MDT) made comments which were actually fairly receptive and the process kind of stopped before that was all finished” (when the annexation requested was withdrawn). “It was a favorable study in regards to being able to use (the interchange),” Olson said.

However, when I contacted the administrator of MDT District 2 in Butte, he expressed surprise the project remained active. “We’ve got some concerns,” he said. That report certainly would be factored into the city’s impact study. As should a possible traffic increase along bumpy Old Clyde Park Road; people driving south on Highway 89 to Livingston might want to avoid the additional traffic at the proposed truck stop.

Also to be considered is the 24/7 night glow residents along the road would have in their view of the Absaroka Mountains to the south. Without foliage on trees, many homes would have a direct line-of-sight. Would property values be affected?

More information is better than less, especially with a decision that has such long-term implications.

 Peter D. Fox
North of Livingston