MISSOULA - The City of Missoula is working towards receiving a $25 million infrastructure grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve the safety and flow of traffic downtown.
The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant would be one of the largest federal transportation grants ever received in Montana.
City officials will host a town hall meeting to discuss the possible changes on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Wilma Theater. Community members are being urged to attend and share their opinions.
Speakers will discuss plans to restore Front and Main Streets to two-way traffic, ideas for improving safety on Higgins Avenue, and how the Missoula of the future means creating better connecting routes for non-drivers to trails along the river.
"This would go a long ways towards doing things like new paving, new streetlights, uh new signals. Just kind of basic infrastructure upgrades. And the focus of the project is really on safety and access, and circulation in downtown,' City of Missoula Public Works and Mobility Director Jeremy Keene explains. "So, we really focused on how do we get people in and out of downtown safely, and um make it easier to make turns off of Higgins, make it easier to circulate in downtown to find parking and to get to businesses.
The large-scale, long-term project would not begin construction for at least three years.
Additionally, Keene believes the project will promote a more sustainable Missoula.
"It really encourages multi-modal use. So, being able to get downtown on the bus, or walk[ing], or rid[ing] a bike really helps us be more sustainable in our transportation. It's also sustainable financially because one of the realities that we have in downtown is that we just can't build for cars and only cars. We just don't have enough money, we don't have enough space and so being able to make it easier to get downtown using other modes really helps us be financially sustainable."