MIST is involved in many of the local projects and processes happening in the region. Listed below are overviews of specific issues.
The City and State are working to add a second left turn lane from North bound on Reserve to West bound on Mullan. They propose to remove a pedestrian island, and some sections of bike lane. MIST is working to find an alternative to this proposal. click for pictures and captions.
Arthur 5th 6th
The original proposal for installing a large signalized intersection near the University and 5-laning a 2 block section of Arthur Avenue does not appear to be moving forward. We are participating in the compromise plan that is being developed by UM and the City and continue to research and promote the MIST citizens' plan.
The Environmental Impact Statement was completed in late 2011. The preferred alternative by the City and State is a 5-lane roadway between Mount and Broadway. A citizen coalition is promoting a citizen 3+ plan. MIST favors the citizens' plan. Our current research is to specifically find a package of solutions that reduces projected 2040 traffic volumes from 50,000 car trips a day to about 20,000 car trips a day. The key is the peak hour traffic...
The State DOT is the lead agency for this project. Preliminary analysis lead to the initial choice of single lane roundabouts at the on and off-ramps from I-90 to Van Buren Dr. and from I-90 to Orange St. This process is expected to start again with more public process in 2011. MIST supports the roundabout alternative with strong preference for pure single lane roundabouts without any second circulating or by-pass lanes. Also connected to this project is a proposal to put up a sound wall along Interstate 90 in the Missoula Valley.
In the heart of the City, Higgins Ave. is due for an overhaul. As part of the Downtown Master Plan, and the older Downtown Streets Plan, the current preferred alternative for Higgins is a 3-lane configuration from Brooks to Railroad. That would tie into the current 2-lane Higgins from Brooks to South Ave, would allow bike lanes to be installed through downtown and the Hip Strip, make pedestrian crossing shorter/simpler, and remove the current left turn restrictions during peak hours.
Broadway remains a mix of lane configurations- 2, 3, 4, and 5 lanes in different areas of town. Bike lanes and pedestrian crossings exist in several sections but are not consistent. Several groups are proposing to rework Broadway into a better system for all modes of transportation.
Note: The section of Broadway from Russell to Van Buren is addressed- with no resolution- in the Downtown Master Plan.
Missoula has bike lanes on roughly 70% of all arterials. Working best as a complete system, MIST is engaged in research and design for the 30% of arterials without bike lanes. These roads include sections on: Russell, Broadway, Higgins, Stephens, Orange, 5th/6th and Brooks. New bike completed in summer 2009 include Higgins between the bridge and Broadway (travel lanes and parking lanes narrowed to gain 5' bike lanes), Stephens Ave. between Mount and Brooks (all four travel lanes were narrowed from 13' to 10') and Orange St. from the Bridge to Broadway (narrowed travel lanes again). In 2010, parking was removed on one side to gain bike lanes on Brooks St., and N. Higgins went from 4 lanes to 3 to gain cycle tracks. 2011 saw many bike lanes widened around Missoula. In 2012, the E. Broadway shoulder became a little wider and is now an official bike lane and 5th and 6th (Higgins to Arthur) had the parking lanes on each side go from 10' to 8' and the travel lanes go from 12' to 11'6" in order to insert a 5' bike lane with a resurfacing project.
*We need help measuring and photographing all the arterials to plan for lane optimization.*
MIST is proposing that S. 5th and S. 6th Streets be converted to a more sustainable street. The current configuration has each road being one-way, with two lanes for motor vehicles and no bike lanes. Cyclists are often squeezed against parked cars, pedestrians have to cross two lanes with the risk of one lane stopping and the second lane causing a crash, and drivers are encouraged to speed with the overly wide roadway. We propose to convert one of the motor vehicle lanes to a wide bike lane (Russell to Higgins).
We hosted an open house in April, 2009 and had overwhelming support to move forward. Let us know if you can join a working group to get this project done.
This section of Brooks was repaved with bike lanes in 2010. Several options were on the table: our initial preference to keep the original curb line, remove parking on one side, and add in bike lanes was accepted by the neighborhood and city council. click the link for more.
A citizens' group generally meets once a month to help plan a major regional non-motorized trail effort to connect the Bitterroot Spur commuter trail in Missoula to the Highway 93 Lolo to Florence non-motorized trail in the Bitterroot Valley. Contact Parks and Recreation (721-PARK) for more information.
Filling the Bitterroot Trail Gap
One of the premier pedestrian and bicycle trails in Missoula has a six block gap. Let us know if you can help make this connection.
Pave the Riverfront Trail? There are lots of pros and cons to asphalting the southside riverfront trail...We are working with psyllium and different types of pavers as alternatives to asphalt.
Amtrak has recently finished a feasibility study to look at the viability of bringing a passenger rail service to southern Montana. The study looked favorably on restoring service to the Garden City.
Improving Bus Service
Missoula has good bus service for a city of 70,000. Mountain Line is always looking to expand coverage and frequency. Our main task is advocacy to support their efforts
Another goal for bus service is to make them as clean as possible (fuel-wise)
All Cities over 50,000 people are guided by a long range transportation plan. The plan is created by citizens with government over-site and is the official access to federal gas tax funds. Missoula is projected to receive 400,000 million dollars over the next 25 years. The plan is updated every four years. The 2008 update process called for excellent bike/walk/transit services in the Missoula Valley and connecting beyond. This led to some modest improvements over the last four years. The current update will likely be finalized in early 2013. Unfortunately, a proposal to widen Russell Street to 5 lanes, at a cost of over 50 million dollars, will take up most of the available money for the next decade.
A long range plan for Hwy 93 from Missoula to Florence was completed in summer 2008. The plan calls for regional bus service as soon as possible, with an eye towards the return of passenger rail in the Bitterroot Valley over the next ten to twenty years. No additional capacity is expected to be added to the current 4-lane highway due to financial, environmental and land-use constraints.
This plan- spearheaded by the Missoula Downtown Association- encompasses Higgins, Broadway, the Front/Main couplet and several neighborhood streets. The results of this plan will lead to the results for the W. Broadway Corridor Vision Plan.
OPG updated the zoning code for Missoula County. In general, the plan dovetails with sustainable transportation. Mixed-use development, transit-friendly density, walkable and bikable neighborhoods, and more sustainable parking practices are all part of the plan.
A transportation committee put together a coherent plan for the Rattlesnake corridor.
Free Cycles Programs to get involved with:
Other MIST Programs and Projects for involvement:
Missoula Car Share
Bicycle Boulevard/ Neighborhood Greenways Network
Other ways to help:
Fundraising: MIST and Free Cycles are looking to grow into the future with a secure annual budget. Please get in touch with us if you would like to help.