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Missoula’s long-range transportation plan set for final adoption

Missoula Traffic
Posted at 10:10 AM, Dec 13, 2021

MISSOULA — A plan to direct an estimated $208 million toward 71 various transportation improvements across the Missoula metropolitan area has received approval from county commissioners.

Missoula County last week noted their intent to pass the Long Range Transportation Plan in early January after lauding its goals to enhance area connections, build new connections and enhance regional equity.

The Missoula City Council adopted the plan last month.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” said Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. “It’s a solid plan.”

The plan recommends funding 71 projects valued at just over $208 million through 2050. Of that funding, around $112 million is earmarked for complete streets, $20 million for active transportation, and $33 million for roadway extensions.

Another $18 million is reserved for bridges and $2.5 million for intersection improvements. The plan breaks the recommendations down into short, near, and long-term.

“A big component is funding the plan,” said Jon Sand, a transportation planner with the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization. “It needs to be a fiscally constrained plan. We can’t allocate funding beyond what we anticipate our available funding to be.”

The city and county are required by the federal government to update their transportation plans every four years, and some aspects of the plan aren’t new.

Among the goals, the plan looks to reduce the share of single-occupancy vehicle trips by 34% and triple the current share of trips made by biking or walking. It also aims to quadruple the share of current transit trips.

Alongside investments in transit, the plan includes the new-to-Missoula concept of a mobility hub.

“They’re full concept, and they can happen on different scales,” he said. “One would be in the downtown transfer center with access to car-sharing and bike-sharing. The smaller-scale hubs would provide opportunities for multi-modal transportation options.”

While most of the projects are slated for active transportation, meaning bike and pedestrian facilities, the most costly projects target roadway extensions. The plan notes the widening of Russell Street at a cost of $47 million.

New connectors identified with the Mullan project also are included, such as the completion of Mary Jane Boulevard, George Elmer Drive, and England Boulevard. They carry a combined cost of around $30 million.

“If you look at the plan, it looks like a low investment in intersection improvements,” said Sand. “But it’s important to note that during complete streets projects and roadway extensions, we’ll be looking at including intersection improvements when those projects are completed.”