Knife River of Belgrade began work this week at the intersection of Love and Huffine lanes near Bozeman, where a new traffic signal will be installed before the end of the summer.

The project is part of a years-old access plan, which identified the best signal spacing along Huffine to preserve its operation as a highway, while also accommodating easy access, said Danielle Bolan, traffic operations engineer for the Montana Department of Transportation. Increased traffic volumes along the side streets in the area determined project timing, she said.

Bolan noted that while local traffic is increasing along Love Lane, the road also draws traffic from other areas such as Belgrade, which is one reason it makes sense to place a signal there. The other reason is that spacing along Huffine should be limited to every mile or half-mile, and the Love Lane location fits those parameters, she said.

Bolan said safety was not a factor in the decision to install the signal. She said MDT studied the intersection several years ago, prompted by citizen complaints about accidents there; however, only seven crashes were reported at the intersection during the three-year period the department reviewed, and just one of those would have been prevented had a traffic signal been in place.

The $1.025 million project will include widening Love Lane to accommodate a left-turn lane and a true right-turn lane. It also will include new asphalt, sealant, drainage, and curb and gutter improvements, said Jeff Ebert, MDT Butte District administrator.

Ebert said most of the work will take place throughout the summer during normal business hours, and that minor traffic delays should be anticipated. Work is expected to be completed in August.