MISSOULA — With approval from the Montana Department of Transportation, the City of Missoula plans to install a center turn lane on Mullan Road, and it’s working on the design of a roundabout on George Elmar Drive.
Both projects sit in the greater Mullan area, where the city and county are planning nearly $40 million in infrastructure work over the coming years. The first phase of that work, estimated at $19 million, is set to break ground next spring.
City engineer Kevin Slovarp said crews will reconfigure a stretch of Mullan Road to include a two-way center turn lane. The road is currently wide enough to accommodate the changes, which MDT has agreed to.
“We basically wrote them a nice letter saying the existing width of Mullan Road in this section is the same as in other sections, where there’s already a two-way center turn lane,” Slovarp said. “We’d like to do this as a striping improvement as opposed to a physical widening. They agreed to that.”
While the city finalizes the design on Mullan, it’s also finishing up plans to add a roundabout at the intersection of George Elmar and Cattle drives. But the current design places the project over budget, Slovarp said.
“What we’re wrestling with at this point is whether to reduce the scope of work to fit within the existing budget, or bring back an additional request to fund the project holistically,” Slovarp said. “We believe there’s safety and functionality features that should be installed with the project initially, but we want to be sensitive to the funding side of things.”
Plans for the greater Mullan area call for the full extension of Mary Jane Boulevard and George Elmar Drive from Mullan Road to West Broadway. While Mary Jane is included in Phase 1 of the larger infrastructure project, George Elmar will likely wait until Phase 2.
Once finished, however, both George Elmar and Mary Jane will serve as new north-south connectors.