MISSOULA — More than a year after ending in-person public meetings due to the pandemic, Missoula County on Tuesday resumed a hybrid format, maintaining a virtual session while gathering publicly in the courthouse conference room.
In doing so, commissioners approved a $104,000 contract with Design Workshop, Inc., to draft a countywide master plan for trails and rural connectivity.
County planner Juniper Davis said the final plan will give the county a long-range guide to build “priority pathways” outside the city limits while also exploring future funding opportunities.
“This will be a robust planning effort where we’ll attempt to identify priorities for implementation and maintenance of shared-use paths,” she said. “We secured two grants, which makes this plan achievable.”
The grants include $30,000 from the Montana Department of Commerce and $70,000 in federal planning funds from the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization. The county will contribute $4,000 to the effort.
Davis said outreach will begin this year and a plan should be completed next year.
“We had five top-notch proposals. We got some of the best firms in the county to submit,” she said. “ We selected Design Workshop out of Colorado. The folks they assigned to the team are some top-notch transportation experts.”
Non-motorized connectivity plays a central theme in the new Long Range Transportation Plan, and it’s also viewed as a means to reduce traffic congestion as Missoula grows and becomes more compact.
Trails outside the urban area are also key, Davis said.
“We’ve already done great planning for the urban area,” she said. “This will be a planning effort to identify connections and other opportunities we have outside the city limits.”