Posted: Jun 28, 2013 4:25 PM by Katy Harris
Updated: Jun 29, 2013 10:47 AM
BUTTE - Southwest Montana roads are picking up traffic as the Rainbow Family gathering near Jackson nears the official start date on July 1.
But Montana Highway Patrol has more than just the Rainbow gathering to worry about.
"You can pick 'em out real easy going down the road, trunk lid was still straight up, stuff piled clear to the top, there was a whole bunch of stuff on top and I couldn't get a good count, it was either 7 or 8 people in it," said Jackson resident Jay Nelson.
There are over 500 vehicles that have come through the Jackson area. All of them are to park in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for the Rainbow gathering. As of Friday afternoon, an estimated 3,500 people are at the site. That number is growing by the day, and Montana Highway Patrol is seeing an increase in the number of panhandlers.
"Well, I mean obviously, we're dealing with that with just our presence being out here, making sure that everybody is abiding by the traffic laws, and that all the motoring public stays safe," Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Tim Proctor said.
Montana Highway Patrol not only has to deal with panhandling because of the Rainbow gathering, but this weekend there's an expected 600 bicyclists that will be traveling on Highway 278 and there are parts of the highway where the shoulder is extremely narrow.
The bicyclists are participating in a Camp-Mak-A-Dream event called Ride Around the Pioneers In One Day.
"It's a 70 mile an hour highway and they are allowed to be on the roadway," Proctor said.
Montana Highway Patrol has sent troopers from as far away as Glasgow to cover the Rainbow gathering.
The Forest Service warns that dust and washboarding could occur on dirt roads in the area.