KALISPELL - One major part of the new Downtown Plan for Kalispell was what to do with Main Street.
The street is currently designated as part of US Highway 93 by the Montana Department of Transportation and they want to keep it that way.
However, during public comment periods before the plan was passed, it became clear to the city council that traffic volume and commercial trucks were a concern and many local residents and businesses want it treated as more of a Main Street rather than a highway.
Currently, to get traffic through downtown, MDT has four driving lanes, two parallel parking lanes, narrow sidewalks, and no left turns in order to get traffic through as fast as possible. In the new downtown plan, there is an option for how Kalispell can change that and create a friendlier main street.
The newly designed Main Street would have the sidewalks widened by an additional 6 feet, only one lane of traffic in each direction with one turn lane in the middle and expanded parking lanes by two feet.
Some may think the reduction of lanes would further the problem of traffic and congestion but City Planning and Building Director, Tom Jentz says it isn’t about reducing traffic but accommodating those who actually want to spend time downtown.
“We don’t want more traffic, we don’t want less traffic, we want the right traffic. We want people who want to be in the Main Street and our downtown area we want them to have an opportunity to come through and be a part of the downtown as opposed to just being a highway where we’re just pushing people through as fast as they can go. That’s not the dream for our downtown, that’s now our vision,” says Jentz.
Jentz added that all the details in the 57-page document are simply a vision or template for people to see what they like or dislike. None of the plan is set in stone or has any set dates to physically change anything.
Click here to view the new plan for downtown Kalispell.