Madison County supervisors have switched gears on a $16 million Bozeman Road project that has been in the works for several years. 

Despite voting last month to hire Neel-Schaffer Inc. to finish an environmental phase of the project, District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen and District 4 Supervisor David Bishop did not want to approve the actual contract on Monday. 

The pair instead opted to table the action until they saw the final results of a traffic study conducted by Neel-Schaffer before further committing to the project. District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin voted with the pair to table the contract.

In April, supervisors voted 5-0 to move forward with Bozeman Road. On the same day, Steen and Griffin voted against moving forward with Reunion Parkway Phase III. 

On Monday, however, there was unanimous support for Reunion Parkway Phase III, which would take the road across I-55 to Galleria Parkway.

The Bozeman Road project, which has $4.4 million worth of federal funds attached to it, has deadlines that must be met, including environmental design phase completion by January 2017. 

Steen said he didn’t feel comfortable committing $11.5 million for the project. 

“At this point I would love to see that traffic study plan,” he said. “I would like to table this item until June 6.”

Keith O’Keefe of Neel-Schaffer was then asked to speak to the board about the need for the project and the tight deadlines surrounding the job. 

“There’s 17,000 vehicles a day on Bozeman right now,” he said. “It’s a little less than what’s on (Highway) 463.”

O’Keefe said the tipping point to move to four lanes on a road is 10,000 cars a day and Bozeman is well beyond that. 

“It’s 170 percent of what it carries,” he said. “It’s definitely one of the county’s priorities.”

Board President Trey Baxter said the county will lose the federal funding if they don’t spend the money and hit particular deadlines, which could also jeopardize future federal funding. 

Bishop said his priorities haven’t really changed but when a ruling by a federal judge over Parkway East put the county liable for millions in a failed development he thought Reunion Parkway was a better investment. 

“We have to be prepared to find some way to develop that parkway out there,” he said. “I just personally feel our money should be spent bringing money into the county.”

Bishop said he wasn’t anti-Bozeman and he was just waiting to see cost estimates from Neel-Schaffer on the project. 

He said a two-week deadline didn’t jeopardize the project and they will probably approve the environmental phase to keep it alive.

“It’s hard to set your priorities if you don’t know what kind of money you’re looking at,” he said. “Nobody ever said Bozeman is not gonna be worked on.”

On Monday, Baxter argued there are several commercial developments wanting to locate off Bozeman, including a hunting store, bank, and strip mall. 

“Commercial development is coming and that pays the bills for the county,” he said. 

Supervisors will discuss the environmental contract at their first meeting in June.