Last night on the drive to Whitefish from Kalispell on the relatively newly completed 4 lane Highway 93 North “expressway” to Whitefish during rush hour, on an icy surface, raised concerns. The concerns include the Highway West Project, overall Montana Highway Safety and auto accident prevention planning.
All four lanes of Highway 93 North to Whitefish, were packed car to car, truck to car, without a barely a car length between each traveling at the brisk speed of 70 miles per hour + on an icy road. I observed vehicles with bald tires and can only presume a fair number of uninsured drivers constituent with Montana DOT statistics. In an attempt to slow down to the speed limit of 65, I was tailgated and practically run off the road. One deer or car crossing the road at Happy Valley would have caused in my opinion at least an Eight-vehicle pile up, with likely fatality.
Granted it was 5:30 p.m. rush hour. Nonetheless this raised questions. I recall when two lanes from Kalispell to Whitefish were more than sufficient and seemed safer. As a result I looked into the population statistics and found that the population of the City of Whitefish has grown an astounding 45% since 1990. This does not even include the out of city, growth areas.
My family has lived in the Flathead for 18 years. We live close to Whitefish. Our family and children are involved in the Whitefish community, along with family relatives. I have been helping Whitefish families and individuals by providing representation as a personal injury attorney along with business and family matters. We handle many insurance claims from Whitefish due to our Whitefish family and involvement in the community.
For a change I wanted to try express my own concerns about the crowding conditions on highway 93 North in Whitefish and the trends that my research seems to indicate are occurring. My family drives on Highway 93 North to Whitefish almost every day of the week. I want to bring awareness to the dangers of the high-speed rush hour before the wrongful death or serious injury case of a friend, relative or client.
While our accident lawyers have recovered Millions in settlements including Whitefish Auto Accident Injury victims and those injured by Drunk Drivers in and around Whitefish, Montana Law only compensates personal injury victims with money damages. It does not reverse the serious permanent injuries or wrongful death that results from dangerous road conditions.
The first factor I looked at was population increase. There is a steady trend for the Whitefish area having the highest population growth in the County. Second I factored in the Montana Department of Transportation road safety information about Highway 93 North in the Whitefish area.
Due to the alarming incident of automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents in the Highway 93 North corridor between Kalispell and Whitefish the Montana Department of Transportation has designated this area a “High Crash Enforcement Corridor”. Montana DOT Drunk Driving Accident report for 2010 indicates there remains a substantial drunk driving problem for the Whitefish Highway 93 North corridor, which was also considered in the designation. The map and more information may be located athttp://www.mdt.mt.gov/publications/docs/brochures/safety/current_chsp.pdf
The final factor I considered in my analysis is the Whitefish West Project which has resulted in a Whitefish downtown traffic juggernaut. However, when completed it will result in another 5 mile expressway from downtown Whitefish out to Twin Bridges Road, milepost 133.
Over the years as I have traveled Highway 93 North and based anecdotally as a Whitefish accident lawyer I have notice that after the expansion initially traffic was very light. It is my belief that the improved road brought access to greater growth in the Whitefish area due to its connection to the higher paying jobs in Kalispell. With the expansion under the Whitefish Highway 93 corridor it would seem that further subdivision and growth will, over time result in more traffic accidents and serious accident injuries.
I enjoy visiting friends and family in Whitefish. Our family enjoys the community activities and we do our best to give back to the community. However, we have lived in Columbia Falls since starting my Montana Personal Injury practice 25 years ago, which is now Bliven Law Firm, P.C., Montana Trial Attorneys. I truly believe that Whitefish is a wonderful destination for Flathead County residents to enjoy the activities, visit relatives and participate in the community. I do not believe that you have to live there to be involved or enjoy all that Whitefish has to offer.
My primary concern as a Whitefish Injury Lawyer is that people are moving into Whitefish and the Whitefish area to enjoy the amenities. The result will be a much more dangerous highway 93 North and Whitefish West expressway. I do not want to see anymore, friends, relatives or clients from Whitefish killed or injured on a dangerous highway.
With all of the construction occurring and roadblocks I am beginning to avoid the frequent trips to Whitefish, which are for recreational activities. My final thought which is much less important than Montana Highway accidents and injuries, was whether, too much growth, will divert other Flathead Residents to competing communities with similar amenities. Only time will tell whether too much of a good thing will spoil the small old west town atmosphere Whitefish has offered in the past.