Last Friday’s four-car collision near Florence that took the life of 61 year-old Christina Howe, has brought together a group of Missoula and Ravalli County citizens to spotlight the dangerous section of Highway 93 between Lolo and Florence.

Dr. Stephanie Puckett and a group of others are asking the community to take part in a vigil from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

“What we are planning to do on Friday is we are asking the community to come out and participate in a silent vigil along the bike path between Lolo and Florence just as a show of support and remembrance for those that have been lost or injured along that stretch of Highway 93,” said Dr. Puckett.

Puckett listed some of the changes that have been suggested that might increase the safety of those who travel and commute on Highway 93.

“Some in the community have suggested stoplights at major intersections, and the Trader Brothers intersection is one that keeps coming up repeatedly, along with the Carleton Creek turnoff,” she said. “There are many very dangerous intersections where people are pulling out repeatedly onto Highway 93 and those are hotspots, if you will, for crashes.”

Puckett is asking people to line the walking path between Lolo and Florence to let the public see their concern over the dangerous highway.

“What we're asking the community to do is to either make or bring white crosses, either homemade or wooden in remembrance of loved ones or friends and of those injured,” she said. “They can be cardboard, they can be paper, they can be anything that would just memorialize those and honor those that we've lost along the way.”

Puckett specifically is asking those who take part not to park along the highway, but to use two parking areas at either end of the walking trail.

“The parking area down at Trader Brothers which is just south of Lolo here, all the way down to the Florence Carlton High School parking lot are the two main parking areas,” she said. “So we can go all the way from the Lolo area all the way to the Florence area along the bike trail on the west side of the highway. We would love to have enough community members come out to fill the entire almost seven miles of highway along that bike path.”

Puckett asks that people spread out along the west bike path throughout the 8 mile stretch between Lolo and Florence, maintain six-foot social distancing as much as possible and please wear face masks.

Parking is available at the park and ride parking lots near Trader Brothers and Carlton Creek (walk north and go through the pedestrian underpass to west side bike path), and the main parking lot near across from Florence-Carlton High School. Please do not park on the highway shoulder, driveways, or access roads. Avoid west side parking, and do not impede foot or highway traffic.

This vigil of remembrance is not a political forum. The intention of this vigil is to remember, honor, and memorialize those lost along this dangerous stretch of highway.

Puckett said discussions are underway with the Montana Department of Transportation, as well as with members of the state legislature who live in western Montana and travel on Highway 93.


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