By PHIL DRAKE
HELENA – The state House of Representatives on Saturday approved the second reading of a bill that would rename a portion of U.S. Highway 93 in honor of a Montana highway patrolman killed in the line of duty by a drunken driver.
The Highway Patrol Officer Michael W. Haynes Memorial Highway would extend from the intersection of state Highway 82 to the southern boundary of Kalispell.
HB 270 was introduced by Rep. Steve Lavin, R-Kalispell, who also serves as a highway patrol officer and who said he was a friend of Haynes.
“I worked with Trooper Haynes,” Lavin told fellow lawmakers. “He was an excellent trooper and served the people well.”
The motion passed 90-9. The proposal will undergo a third reading in the House on Monday and then be moved to the Senate. If approved, it goes to the governor’s desk.
Rep. Champ Edmunds, R-Missoula, said he meant no disrespect by his comments but added that South Carolina roads were peppered with memorials. He said Montana could get on a “slippery slope” if it began naming its highways for individuals.
Lavin said he did not think it would be a problem as seven highway patrol troopers have died in the line of duty since the department started in 1935 and that Montana had 70,000 miles of roadway.
The law requires the Department of Transportation to recognize the designation when existing signs need replacing and requires new roadway maps to include the change.
The resolution states Haynes saved many lives during his service and was one of the top enforcers of motorists driving under the influence.
In the early morning hours of March 23, 2009, Haynes was traveling southbound on Highway 93 when he was struck head-on by a vehicle driven north in the southbound lanes. The 29-year-old man driving the other vehicle, who was under the influence of alcohol, was killed upon impact.
Haynes, 28, died March 27, 2009. He left a wife, two children and his parents. The 2000 Flathead High School graduate had been a highway patrol officer for 2 1/2 years.