Montana Department Of Highways, Planning and Research Bureau records, 1918-1984

Overview of the Collection

Montana. Department of Highways. Planning and Research Bureau
Montana Department Of Highways, Planning and Research Bureau records
1918-1984 (inclusive)
2.6 linear feet
Collection Number
RS 492 (Formerly RS 192)
This collection is a sub-subgroup (Bureau) of the Montana Department of Transportation records, RS 492. The Planning and Research Bureau formerly operated under the Engineering Division. Please see the primary finding aid for more Montana Department of Transportation records. These records (1918-1984) consist of correspondence, financial records, organizational records, reports, subject files, and miscellany (Photographs, maps, and printed material transferred to the Photograph Archives and Library respectively.)
Montana Historical Society, Library & Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Planning Survey of the Montana State Highway Commission was established in 1936, jointly financed by the state and the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. Also known as the Planning Survey Division, it was charged with gathering any and all types of data that would be beneficial for highway planning. In order to fulfill that responsibility the Division was structured in three principal sections: Traffic, Mapping, and Statistics.

The Traffic Section was given the responsibility of collecting data concerning the movement of motor vehicles on state highways, county roads, and city streets. The data were collected by means of both permanent and portable counters, as well as by visual counts and classifications. In addition to traffic counting, the Traffic Section was given a number of other functions including the weighing of trucks to obtain statistical information; the reporting of the number of accidents by location, type of accident, and economic cost; special urban transportation surveys for cities; origin destination surveys; and parking surveys.

The Mapping Section was authorized to prepare state highway maps, county maps, and city plats. It was also to collect data concerning county roads and to maintain a continuing inventory of such roads in each county, including the type of surface of each road as well as mileages. The Mapping Section also performed special drafting of charts, graphs, and special exhibits.

The Statistical Section was responsible for the completion and reporting of a variety of financial and statistical data pertaining to highways, roads, and streets throughout Montana. These data were reported in published format and were also included in the summaries prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads for all states.

The name of the Montana Highway Planning Survey was changed in 1966 to the Planning Section, and, in 1971 following the statewide reorganization, became the Planning and Research Bureau under the new Department of Highways.

The Planning and Research Bureau was established within the Engineering Division of the Department of Highways. The Bureau was divided into various sections through the years, but the basic responsibilities of the Bureau remained essentially the same. Bureau personnel conducts studies and compiles statistics about traffic, accidents, road use, road wear, tourism, fuel taxes, bridge life, truck weights, pavement markings, safety, and many other topics. The Bureau also produces maps, undertakes one-time research studies, classifies roads, and lets contracts for highway construction. Due to overlapping jurisdictions Bureau personnel have much interaction with federal and county officials.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

These records consist of general correspondence (1937-1984) arranged by subject; financial records (1936-1970); organizational records (1969-1971, n.d.); reports (1963-1973); subject files (1937-1979); and miscellany (1918-1976). (Maps, photographs, and printed material have been transferred to the Library Map Collection, Photograph Archives, and Library respectively.)

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is arranged by series.

Location of Collection


Processing Note

In 2024, the various collections of the Montana Department of Transportation were integrated under one collection identifier, RS 492, in order to help facilitate access, reduce redundancy in the MTHS catalog, and to follow best archival practices.

Collections from Montana Department of Transportation's various Divisions and Bureaus that were previously treated as separate entities are now integrated into this collection, RS 492. Rather than reprocessing over 280 linear feet of Transportation materials, MTHS staff decided to keep the past arrangement of those collections/finding aids, and provide access to them via links through the central finding aid. This decision has allowed the MTHS archival staff to maintain intellectual control over the collection, while removing the need to reprocess it. It also keeps State Agency finding aids at manageable sizes. Please read the scope and content note carefully to determine if this subgroup/sub-subgroup pertains to your research needs.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information is available upon request.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

General Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1
Federal and primary road system
1 / 2
Proposed research projects
1 / 3
Research projects
1 / 4
Research projects
1 / 5-6
Research projects
1 / 7
Research projects
1 / 8
Research program
1 / 9
Research program
1 / 10
Bureau chief

Financial Records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 11
Analyses of receipts and expenditures
1 / 12
Budget status reports
1 / 13
Fourteen-year financial study
1 / 14
Works Progress Administration direct expenditures by county
Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 15
List of maps transferred to the Library Map Collection

Organization Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 16
Design System Research and Development Project (re improvement in manpower utilization, work systems, and productivity in road design)
1969-1971, undated
1 / 17
Organization chart

Photographs Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 18
List of photographs transferred to the Photo Archives

Printed Material Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 19
List of printed material transferred to the Library

Reports Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 19a
Energy Consumption of Alternate Freight Models
1 / 20
Highway system reclassification
1 / 21
National transportation and needs study
1 / 22
Planning activities
1 / 23
Planning activities
1 / 23a
Rail - Highway Impact Evaluation Study

Subject Files Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 24
"American Association of State Highway Officials" (re needed improvements on the federal-aid highway system)
1 / 25
Junkyard study
1 / 26
Maintenance of replaced primary roads
1 / 27
Motor fuel tax (statistics date to 1924)
1937-1947, 1960-1979
1 / 28
National and State Parks Information
1 / 29
Research project: archaeological and paleontological recovery and highway construction
1 / 30
Research project: engineering use of soils
2 / 1
Research project: evaluation of mineral fillers
2 / 2
Research project: Livingston landslide
2 / 3
Research project: quality control testing
2 / 4
Research project: self-luminous highway signs
2 / 5
Research project: snow removal and ice control in urban areas
2 / 6
Research project: traffic line paint
2 / 7
Road life
1937-1968, undated
2 / 8
"Section 210 Project: Highway Needs Study"
2 / 9
"Section 104b Study" (re expanding interstate system)
2 / 9a
Transportaion Symposium: Transportation in the 1980s: Where Are We Headed (sponsored by Senator Max Baucus)

Miscellany Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
2 / 10
Construction contracts statistics
2 / 11
Economic analyses of alternate routings, and road and bridge construction
2 / 12
Motor vehicle registrations statistics
2 / 13
Road mileages and accident statistics
1918-1973, undated
3 / 1
Road mileages and travel statistics
3 / 2
Road mileages and travel statistics
4 / 1
Rural highway speeds statistics
4 / 2
Traffic surveys and statistics
4 / 3
Vehicle miles statistics
4 / 4
Miscellaneous (re building specification diagrams for roads; gross vehicle weight fees; highway improvements; highway survey planning data; maintenance and betterments costs)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Highway Planning--Montana
  • Roads--Design and construction
  • Roads--Montana

Corporate Names

  • United States. Works Progress Administration