Driving on Montana highways in the winter can be a real nightmare. Why are roads so much better in surrounding states?

Hansen, Marija
Hansen, Marija
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Last week I drove from Bozeman to Boise to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. The drive from Bozeman to Boise can be rough during the winter. To be honest, I never really look forward to it. Most of the time, I take US Highway 287 south through Ennis until it intersects with Island Park on Highway 20.

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When I left on Wednesday, road conditions on Highway 287 were awful. Both lanes were snow-covered, and the edges of the road weren't visible. Semi-trucks were stuck on Norris Hill because the roads were too slick for them to make it over the top.

I checked the road report before I left, so I knew that the roads weren't the best, but they were much worse than I had expected. I was even stuck behind a snow plow, but that didn't seem to help much. I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to winter driving, but that doesn't mean that I enjoy it.

Montana Department of Transportation
Montana Department of Transportation
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Here's my issue. The roads got much better once I crossed the Idaho state line. Literally, the moment I passed the "Welcome to Idaho" sign, I noticed an immediate difference. It was night and day. Once I crossed into Idaho, the roads were great. There wasn't any snow or ice at all.

So, why are roads in Montana so bad during the winter? If other states that receive comparable amounts of snow are able to clear the roads, why does Montana have such a problem?

Scott Olson
Scott Olson
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A major issue is a lack of funding. Montana doesn't have a sales tax, whereas many states do. States use revenue from sales tax to help fund snow and ice removal during the winter. There's also a shortage of snow plow drivers in the state.

I know that the Montana DOT does everything it can to keep roads safe during the winter, and I want to personally thank crews and snow plow drivers for all of their hard work.

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