The Gallatin County Commission has approved a request by Churchill-area residents to ask state highway officials to conduct a speed study on the outskirts of the community.

The request was brought forth by members of the Amsterdam-Churchill Community Planning Group, chairman Walt Sales said. The idea is to create a buffer zone coming into the unincorporated community south of Manhattan.

Right now, the speed limit on Churchill Road drops from 65 mph to 35 mph on both ends of town, county planner Warren Vaughan said. If the speed limit is lowered, residents can install crosswalks and other traffic measures.

“It’s in the (neighborhood) plan and they thought they would move forward on it,” he said of the community planning group. “They’re interested in having a staggered speed limit that would slow traffic down more before hitting town.”

In order to change speed limits on state roads, the Montana Department of Transportation requires a speed study, Gallatin County Commissioner Steve White said. A speed study requires the approval of the county commission in unincorporated areas.

The planning group is also gearing up an effort to net community support to build 1,680 feet of sidewalk between Bethel Christian Reformed Church and Manhattan Christian Reformed Church, Vaughan said.

The walkway is proposed to be built in the right-of-way along Churchill Road, but the group wants the blessings of property owners along the way, Vaughan said. No decision has been made on which side of the road the sidewalk would be built.

The planning group received a $132,000 grant from the county’s Community Transportation Enhancement Program funds, according to county records. The federally funded program is funneled through MDT and administered by the county.

But under the terms of the grant, recipients must chip in 13.42 percent as a match, which in Churchill’s case, adds up to about $25,000.

The walkway is the first phase of an overall plan to build sidewalks throughout the community, according to the neighborhood plan.