Montana LTAP has been hitting the roads hard this summer. Director Matt Ulberg and Field Trainer Shawna Page have conducted a variety of trainings in Lewistown, Miles City, Bozeman, Sidney, Billings, Boulder, Kalispell, and Cutbank to name a few. They’ve also hosted classes at four Montana colleges, on the Rocky Boy, North Cheyenne, Crow, and Blackfoot Reservations, and trained Yellowstone National Park road crews.
The annual Snow Rodeo is coming up fast in September. The two events, in Sidney and Missoula, MT, will accommodate up to 80 total competitors. After a one-day safety training, attendees will hone their skills in multiple areas: backhoe, loader, grader, and snowplow use; diagnostics; and the dreaded written exam.
Flagger training has been particularly popular this year. Not only counties, but fire departments, have requested the class. Fire departments want their employees to be comfortable managing traffic around vehicle crashes. According to Shawna, “once one department gets training, then all the neighboring departments realize they need it too.” Matt agreed and added that flagging is a foundational skillset for first responders that needs to be emphasized. The Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) is a leader in training for hazards in the incident management space. Their Transportation Incident Management (TIM) trainings are available online at https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/tim/training.
Matt and Shawna will also teach Flagger training at the annual Montana Tow Truck Association conference in September and help plan and implement the Montana Association of County Road Supervisors (MACRS) Annual conference, where they will present the annual Montana LTAP Road scholar awards. “We had a record number of both Road Master (63) and Road Scholars (52) this year,” noted Shawna. “Some of them were only one class away from completing the program, so we worked hard to get them over the finish line. We even taught a couple of one-on-one classes so that they could finish.”
Montana LTAP classes aren’t limited to Flagger training. Shawna and Matt have the ability to teach more than 80 different courses, including 24-hour New Miner: Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) Part 46, OSHA 30, Fall Protection, Trenching and Excavation Safety, and Confined Spaces and many more. They will also provide instruction on specific sections of those classes upon request. Page has been providing LTAP trainings for over seven years and travels all year across the state of Montana, driving an average of 50,000 miles per year to reach remote counties that need assistance. To date, LTAP has already reached a wide audience in 2023 – teaching 42 classes to 704 students. “I love my job and I try really hard to offer high-quality and entertaining classes,” said Page. “I hate death by PowerPoint, and I don’t want that for my students. I’ve gotten letters from folks months later, saying ‘I took your class, got a job, and I’m making my own money for the first time,’ which is pretty cool.”
MT LTAP is also collecting Build a Better Mousetrap ideas for the annual submission to FHWA. Matt accepts ideas year-round and will include them in the next annual submission. Ideally, a City or County roadway agency submits creative shop-built innovations or field procedures and include pictures and descriptions if possible. Also, LTAP solicits photos from the field to include in the presentations they offer. LTAP’s community of Local Agencies (our Locals) have consistently provided great roadway photos for inclusion in LTAP materials.
LTAP can help with any technical assistance needs including on-site project reviews, assistance with navigating federal funding applications, specific trainings, process evaluations, or working with individuals that need one-on-one time to get up to speed on their skills. “Whatever your needs are, LTAP is going to help you meet them,” says Shawna.