MISSOULA – The City of Missoula is pressing ahead with plans to reconfigure the Fifth and Sixth Street connectors to improve safety — but they need to get cooperation from the state to finish the changes.
The plans — which include making more room for bikes — have been under discussion for the past four years, with the Missoula City Council approving the switch last winter.
The city council was told on Wednesday that Fifth and Sixth streets — between Higgins and Russell — will be completely re-striped,
Both Fifth and Sixth streets — between Higgins and Russell streets — will see a complete re-striping, narrowing space for cars to a single lane. A 2015 study determined it was the best way to reduce crashes, slow traffic down and to accomodate bikes.
The new configuration of both streets will be up for approval at a Transportation Commission Meeting in Billings on Thursday. The Montana Department of Transportation plans on doing some resurfacing work next year, so the city will need to coordinate the improvements it wants to make.
“In the spring we worked out that if we can bring Fifth and Sixth up to levels that are tolerable for pavement preservation — and if we do some of the ADA ramp work that was not yet finished…then MDT will include both of Fifth and Sixth in their pavement preservation program,” said Missoula Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager Ben Weiss. “So, that’s hundreds and thousands of dollars of work that MDT will be doing on those streets.”
Some people have been concerned that the single lane traffic will cause backups, especially during Griz games in the fall. But council members are offering reassurances, saying the changes won’t impact the east end of Fifth and Sixth streets.