Ousel Falls speed limit ordinance moves forward
On Jan. 30, the Gallatin County Commission passed the first reading of an ordinance to set the speed limit to 35 mph on the short stretch of roadway from Ousel Falls parking lot to the intersection of Ousel Falls View Road.
Thirty Big Sky residents signed the petition that was filed June 28 with the Gallatin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office stating there “are residents that live full-time in homes along… Ousel Falls View Road… and as development continues to occur beyond the subdivisions it has become necessary to set speed limits for the constant flow of construction and workforce traffic that travels these roads.”
At the Jan. 30 meeting, Deputy Gallatin County Attorney Bradley Bowen summarized the eight-section ordinance for the commissioners. He noted that Levi Ewan, professional engineer with the Gallatin County Road and Bridge Department, worked to identify a reasonable and safe speed limit using a traffic and speed study recently completed by Morrison and Maierle. That study suggested a 35-mph speed limit was appropriate, and Ewin agreed.
Since that section of Ousel Falls Road is a public highway outside an urban district, the default speed limit is set at 70 mph. The county commission is authorized by law to set the speed limits of roadways outside urban areas if requested to do so.
The ordinance will go into effect 30 days following its second reading and approval (scheduled for 30 days from the first reading) and once the signs have been installed.
Gallatin County Commissioners are also focusing on speed limits along Highway 64, stating in a recent letter to the Montana Department of Transportation that, “It is our recommendation… that the speed limit be separated into two separate zones, focusing on the ‘high’ activity areas and less on the desired travel speeds between segments. There is logic to support a single uniform speed limit of 45 mph along the first 3.27 miles of the corridor, and then a 50-mph speed limit along the remaining 5.72 miles of MT 64. We also agree with the recommendation that additional signage be included within both zones.”
This letter came in response to a MDT report from December, which broke down Highway 64 into four different speed zones ranging from 40 to 50 mph.