KALISPELL - The City of Kalispell has been working on developing a plan for downtown for the past three years.
After talking with hundreds of business owners and around 1,000 community members to see what their dreams, hopes, and aspirations were for the downtown area, the city has created a plan.
The proposal looks at parking, the historical integrity, landscaping and other improvements to create a downtown image. One of the main topics up for discussion is whether Main Street should function as a highway or an actual Main Street.
The city's plan calls for developing a three-lane road system through the middle of downtown, but the city still wants the street to function as a Main Street, not a highway.
On the other side of the discussion, the Montana Department of Transportation wants to create a four-lane road system around the courthouse couplet, based on a 1994 environmental impact statement that says the current two-lane couplet should be four lanes.
City planning and building department director Tom Jentz says the four-lane couplet would create more traffic than the city can handle.
"The traffic would be so intense the traffic, would be so extreme, retail opportunity would just about be non-existent. [The] second concern is as that traffic goes all the way through Main and Idaho -- that key intersection...can not handle a 50 percent increase in traffic volumes.”
The Kalispell City Council plans to set a meeting to get more public input on the plans for the proposed downtown road changes in the near future.