The Montana Department of Transportation announced this week that they are beginning the risk assessment process to determine the feasibility of constructing an underpass at one of Belgrade's busiest railroad crossings.

If built, the underpass would allow vehicles to drive underneath the railroad tracks at the intersection of Jackrabbit Lane and Main Street in Belgrade, reducing traffic congestion and crashes. It would also address the growing needs of the Belgrade community and create a safer and more efficient commute for travelers.

In a statement released on Tuesday, William Fogarty, Butte District Administrator for MDT stated, “We heard from the community that building an underpass is the preferred transportation option. This assessment is an important first step towards seeing an underpass on Jackrabbit Lane. Before the structure can be designed and built, we must first identify potential risks.”

Other options for Jackrabbit Lane in Belgrade are also being considered. The Montana Department of Transportation began exploring an underpass option after conversations within the community regarding the Jackrabbit – Madison to Main project. Current design plans include expanding Jackrabbit Lane to a five-lane roadway from Madison Avenue to Main Street. If plans change to include an underpass, construction will be delayed to allow time to design the structure and obtain additional funding for construction.

The current budget for the Jackrabbit – Madison to Main project is approximately $5 million and does not include funding for an underpass. Those costs alone are estimated to add $20+ million to the project budget. MDT is unable to fund this large of a project in the current five-year program and will seek additional sources of funding to see this work occur.