Let’s Fix Babcock and Mendenhall Streets
Our current Bozeman traffic may not be at the point shown in the above picture, but it is growing.
When talking about fixing Babcock and Mendenhall, I’m not referring to street repair, although both could use a good makeover.
I’m talking about the value, or lack of value, of having them be one-way streets. The biggest complaint I have heard for the past 20 years is that they go the wrong direction.
One Way or Two Way
Most one-way streets go in opposite directions from streets that parallel them. The advantage is three right turns takes you around the block.
In the case of Babcock and Mendenhall, you have to make a left across traffic, holding up those behind you, wasting gas and polluting the air, then wait for a traffic light and cross two lanes against oncoming traffic to round the block and return to Main Street.
It seems like a simple solution to this dilemma would be to simply reverse the directions of the streets.
Another solution would be to simply make those two streets two-way traffic like all the streets around them.
You will still have the same advantages of not holding up traffic to circle the block, and you would still have the benefit of two streets that would bypass Main Street and a long series of traffic lights.
End The Confusion
Parts of both streets are two-way traffic and parts have been changed from one-way to two-way over the years. Why not be consistent throughout the street system?
If you happen to be going in the right direction for you, then they are great streets.
But if not, you will find yourself driving more, using more gas, and creating more traffic gridlock as you try to maneuver to your destination.
Cost of Conversion
There would be a cost to changing the existing model. Signs would have to be reversed and added to the opposite side of the street as well as centerline painting.
But these would be one-time changes and a one-time expense.
Some Final Thoughts
I’m sure this single blog will not solve the problem or get any movers and shakers going after this issue.
I know the city commission has wrestled with this conversation over the years and in most cases it’s been tabled because of the variety of solutions.
Obviously no one solution will satisfy everyone. There is a contingency that would like to keep things as they are.
For others there might be some improvement in their daily commute.
I would like to see more discussion on these two streets and how the flow of traffic might be affected.
If we could reduce pollution, save some gas, improve the traffic flow I believe looking at the possibilities might bring some more information to the table.
What’s your opinion? Comment below.