Broadway Street- between Toole Ave. and Orange Ave.- was converted from a 4-lane roadway to a 3-lane roadway in the fall of 2005. The City of Missoula initiated this project in response to five pedestrians being killed by motor vehicles over a seven year period. The change has resulted in a much safer roadway- injury crashes have dropped significantly, and pedestrians, drivers and cyclists on the most part report that the road feels safer.
Fall 2012: We have requested a modeling of extending the 3-lane from Orange St. thru downtown to Madison. This was the extent of the original project and is still viable and needed as much as ever, as the 4-lane section now has one of the highest crash rates in the City. Single lane roundabouts could replace some signals, promoting better flow and increasing safety along this major Missoula route.
This is a 3-lane section of Broadway- one lane of travel for motor vehicles in each direction, with a center turn lane. A benefit of converting a road from four lanes to three lanes is the ability to add in bike lanes. Pedestrians benefit also, by having to only cross one lane at a time. Traffic flows more freely. The transitions from four lanes to three on each end of the converted roadway have caused some confusion: this is a strong reason to extend the 3-lane through downtown.
Here is a 4-lane section of Broadway that still exists near the Courthouse downtown. At a similar 4-lane section near the Missoula Children's Theater, a pedestrian was hit by a car and killed in November of 2005. Extending the Broadway 3-lane the entire length of Broadway would improve safety for all modes of transportation while enhancing traffic flow.
This is the Burton pedestrian and bicycle crossing. A pedestrian or cyclist only crosses one lane at a time, which is safer than crossing four lanes at once. This section was converted from 4 lanes to 3 lanes in November, 2005.
What are the advantages of a 3-lane compared to a 4-lane? Read this letter from Missoula's Public Works Director
Here are some pictures of Broadway as the old 4-lane, before conversion to a 3-lane:
The most critical safety issue of an undivided 4-lane urban arterial: a pedestrian has to find a gap across four lanes of traffic at once. The biggest risk is that a motor vehicle in one of the lanes does not see a pedestrian- who is often obscured by vehicles in the other lanes. Conversion to a 3-lane allows for a center island with landscaping to be integrated into the roadway. A pedestrian only has to negotiate one lane at a time.
The old 4-lane- looking west near McCormick Street. The inner lane would often clog with left turners blocking the straight thru. A lack of bike lanes often causes motor vehicles to pass too closely. The largest safety danger is a pedestrian crossing the 4 lanes all at once.