On Monday, Missoula City Council opened a hearing on whether to adopt a new long-term transportation plan known as Missoula Connect that will guide future transit-related projects.
The city has been collecting public feedback for the plan since early 2020, which aims to inform transport plans and policies through 2050. The Missoula Connect area includes stretches from Wye to Bonner and Evaro to Lolo .
“It’s a way to coordinate all of our street and infrastructure projects and coordinate those with utility projects and with other city efforts,” City Councilor Jordan Hess, who chairs the city council, said on Tuesday. land use planning and development committee. âIt’s just a great opportunity to make sure our community grows the way we want it to. “
The new plan is part of a federally mandated process carried out every four years for which Missoula receives direct federal funds due to its designation as a metropolitan statistical area.
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The Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and various local, nonprofit, and private government entities have guided the planning efforts. The 148-page document details the significant efforts made by planners to garner public comment.
“The Long Range Transportation Plan is a comprehensive policy document to guide transportation investments in the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Area,” Jon Sand, transportation planner at DFO, told the board Monday evening.
Missoula Connect seeks to offer a wider range of transit options and reduce the number of cars on the road while taking safety and economic concerns into account. It is deeply linked to housing and green spaces, with master plans for the topics covered throughout the document.
When Missoulians commute to work, about 71.7% of the population drive alone, according to the plan. Another 9.3% of trips include carpooling, while 2.6% use the city’s bus system. Mountain Line reported 1.57 million trips in 2018, up from 897,000 in 2012.
About a third of all workers in Missoula County commute from a neighboring county.
Safety is a further element, with the report indicating that there were nearly 12,000 transportation-related collisions in the Missoula area between 2013 and 2017. Of those collisions, 462 involved pedestrians or cyclists – there were some 85 in 2018 alone.
Equity is also included in the plan, as many transit projects could be done in low-income neighborhoods or other areas that are not as connected as they could be. The low cost and increased use of buses and bicycles was mentioned, and a bike-sharing program was suggested.
New bike paths, dedicated bus lanes on some roads, and trail additions are all mentioned.
In order to narrow down the projects, the contribution of the public was taken into account, as the projects were rated by the city on how they approached the declared transport targets.
They were then classified into short, medium and long term projects. Some of the near-term projects include approximately $ 47.2 million for the reconstruction of Russell Street, as well as the Bitterroot River Crossing project, which would include the proposed South Avenue bridge.
The relocation of Front Street and Main Street from one-way to two-way streets was also included as a short-term project, as were improvements to Reserve Street.
Medium-term plans include the proposed bridge over the Bitterroot Trail, which would cross Clark Fork and connect McCormick Park to Broadway Street. He also noted several proposed projects for Highway 200 through East Missoula. An extension of Johnson Street near Southgate Shopping Center has been highlighted as a potential project.
Long-term projects include a new I-90 interchange at Coal Mine Road as well as the extension of Howard Raser Drive. A $ 58.5 million investment in Brooks Street is also under consideration, which could eventually include a dedicated bus lane and better crosswalks.
The total cost of the 71 recommended projects was about $ 208.3 million over the next 30 years and would draw money from federal, state and local pools. Inflation has been included in the estimate of future costs. Many projects could be eligible for a grant.
Sand also noted that the plan is subject to budget constraints.
â(This plan) cannot allocate funds to committed and recommended projects beyond what the estimated funding (which) would be available over the next 30 years,â Sand told the board.
The city council’s land use planning committee will discuss the plan on Wednesday, with a final review and vote expected on November 1. , including the Sidewalk Master Plan, City-County Park Master Plan, and the 2016 Long-Term Transportation Plan.
âThis plan is exciting because it takes a regional approach to transportation and places it in the context of other plans,â Hess said. âIt connects transportation and housing to growth and land use and all of these issues that our community grapples with.â
Jordan Hansen covers news and local government for the Missoulian. Shout it out on Twitter @jordyhansen or email him at [email protected]