Supporters Look to Learn from Past Infrastructure Failures

“It doesn’t make sense to kick that can down the road when we are talking about critical infrastructure in someone’s community,” said Darryl James.

The rejected bonding bill only allocated about $30 million for critical infrastructure, like wastewater systems, roads and bridges. The coalition hopes to find support for a much larger investment this session, saying Montana could wisely spend $100 to $200 million on water and sewer projects alone. But James said even $200 million for waterline maintenance is only a “drop in the bucket.”

“Most of the urban water and wastewater systems were built between 75 and 100 years ago,” said James. “There are softball-sized holes in these water lines. We are going to reach catastrophic failure somewhere.”

Please check out the full article here.

Infrastructure Week 2018 is just around the corner!

Exciting news! The Montana Infrastructure Coalition and its partners, are participating in Infrastructure Week, a national advocacy and educational event, with its own May 14-18 tour across Montana.

The Infrastructure Week tour in Montana will consist of stops in 17 cities across the Treasure State. Each stop will include a presentation by the Montana Infrastructure Coalition and comments from local leaders about the importance and need for infrastructure improvement. The informational events will be held at locations at which infrastructure projects are underway, have already been completed, or are in need. Projects range from road improvements to water treatment plants. According to the 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers’ report card, Montana’s infrastructure is approaching a critical state of disrepair and earned a grade of C-. In addition,
a 2015 Bureau of Transportation Statistics report, indicated that 45 percent of Montana’s roads need repair.


Infrastructure Week – May 14-21, 2018 – is a week-long series of events raising awareness about why it is time to build better infrastructure.


More information about National Infrastructure Week can be found at

Infrastructure Week 2018 – Montana Tour Schedule Announced

Please join us at a community near you!

May 14
Missoula: 9 a.m., Russell St. bridge (SE corner of Russell and Broadway)
Havre: 10:30 a.m., Bullhook site (Meet at 520 Fourth St. walk to site)
Wolf Point: 3 p.m., water tanks (6th Ave. North directly across from Faith Lutheran Home. From Hwy 2, go north on 6th Ave. all the way to the top of the hill. The three water tanks are on the left)
Eureka: 4 p.m., Water plant (Turn right at fire department on Hwy 93, follow to the end of Utility Way to filtration plant)

May 15
Fairview: 9 a.m., Hwy 200 (Meet at Super Value parking lot)
Kalispell: 9:30 a.m., Glacier Village Greens subdivision (community center at 195 W. Nicklaus Ave.)
Glendive: 2 p.m., water plant (420 W. Bell St.)
Great Falls: 3 p.m., Great Falls water plant and lab (Overlook Drive to Upper River Road. First right going south on River Road. Eastside access gate.)

May 16
Miles City: 10 a.m., SafetyFestMT (2715 Dickinson St. at Miles City Community College)
Dillon: 11 a.m., Sebree Street (226 South Atlantic St.)
Billings: 1:30 p.m., wastewater project (Meet at gate 801, US Hwy 87 east)
Butte: 2 p.m., Basin Creek water treatment plant (447 Basin Creek Road)

May 17
Livingston: 10 a.m., downtown projects (Meet at city hall, 414 E. Callender St.)
Bozeman: 1 p.m., Cottonwood Road between Babcock and Durston (Park on Babcock Street on the northeast side of the intersection of Cottonwood Road and Babcock St.)
Big Sky: 3 p.m., MT Hwy 64 TIGER grant award ( Big Sky Town Center-Fire Pit Park at Ousel Falls Road)

May 18
Helena: 2 p.m., West Main project (Meet at the parking lot north of Reeder’s Alley)

Deep Cuts in State Funding for Highway Construction

The Montana Department of Transportation has announced that at least $127 million in highway construction projects will be delayed until May 2017 due to lack of funds. The Governor’s budget not only fails to shore up the budget, but cuts it $200 million more from the FY18 budget.

Big Sky Business

HB473: Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act formally introduced

After nearly six weeks of work amongst Infrastructure Coalition members and a bi-partisan group of legislators, the Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act has been formally introduced to the Legislature and has been scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, February 22nd.

As a means of updating our “user fees” for Montana highways, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Garner (R-Kalispell), proposes an $0.08 increase in the tax on gasoline, and a $0.0725 increase in the tax on highway diesel.  This increase is estimated to provide roughly $35 million in new revenue for the Montana Department of Transportation, provide approximately $24 million in new revenues to city and county governments, and protect Montana Highway Patrol jobs put at risk by current budget constraints.

“The Infrastructure Coalition is excited to see HB 473 moving forward and we hope for a good, robust hearing on the merits of the bill,” said Darryl James, Executive Director of the Coalition.  “While the current bill draft does not completely mirror our proposal, we do believe that it is a sound vehicle that we can stand behind as a Coalition.  HB 473 allows Montana to fully leverage federal highway dollars and provide a long-overdue increase for local governments to address our most pressing transportation safety and efficiency needs across Montana.”

“A fuel tax is one of the most direct “user fees” we have at our disposal.  We haven’t adjusted that fee since the early 90’s in Montana, and we simply cannot keep up with routine maintenance as the value of our revenue declines relative to inflation,” said James.

Rep. Frank Garner said, “My mission in sponsoring HB 473 is to promote road and bridge safety for our families.  With this bill, we can pay as we go for these improvements and we can get our out-of-state visitors to help us pay for them.  We can turn an investment of $60 million into $290 million with federal and local matching funds and we can save tens of millions more with safer and better roads.”

The Infrastructure Coalition urges legislators to see this bill for what it is – an opportunity to leverage a direct user fee to invest in our failing roads and bridges.  James said, “This bill is about our kids and our commerce in Montana.  Over 200 people die every year on Montana’s highways.  Surely we all share an interest in making sure our kids have safe roads to get to school and sporting events across the state.  Our remote location often makes connections to business and commercial markets difficult, but poorly maintained roads make that challenge even greater.  We owe it to our kids, our business people, and our communities to maintain a safe and reliable transportation system and we urge the Legislature to move this important piece of legislation forward.”

The Montana Infrastructure Coalition is an association of over 100 public and private organizations involved in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of our most critical infrastructure in Montana.  The purpose of this Coalition is to help change public policy and improve the manner in which State and local governments build and maintain these essential community assets.