MIST is involved in many of the local projects and processes happening in the region. Listed below are overviews of specific issues.
Click on the links for up dated information:
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.
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. We are working with a coalition to make this the best possible 5-lane roadway. Current design calls for a raised bike lane, sidewalks, trail crossings and improved bus service. There is strong support for a 3-lane roadway (instead of 5 lanes) in the more residential section (3rd to Mount).
Van Buren Orange I-90
We support the roundabouts propsed to be built in 2017. We are also working to ensure safe walk and bikeways surrounding the project, and also to slow drivers by doing away with the 'fast exit' design. Also connected to this project is a proposed sound wall along Interstate 90 in the Missoula Valley.
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.
Higgins Beckwith Roundabout
The first modern, single lane roundabout on an arterial in Missoula opened in September, 2009. We continue to raise awareness in the community about using roundabouts, with public service announcements, on-site instruction, flyers and other media. We need volunteers to: count traffic, interview people using the intersection (especially pedestrians and cyclists), and film the intersection at different times of the day. We are exploring different possibilities for ‘before and after’ studies.
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 did not move forward due to community opposition. A much better project is now on the ground. This has been deemed an 'interum' safety project and will likely be addressed again in the near future.
Bike Lanes Phase II
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 lanes 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 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. 2014 had bike lanes installed on sections of Bancroft by removing parking on one side. In 2015, the bike lanes on Arthur Ave will likely get a buffer.
*We need help measuring and photographing all the arterials to plan for lane optimization.*
5th and 6th Crosstown Bikeway
MIST, with the River Front Neighborhood Council, is proposing that S. 5th and S. 6th Streets be calmed in order to create a more livable street. The preferred alternative is to converted one of the two travel lanes into a buffered bike lane, from Russell to Higgins.
Brooks St. (Mount to Higgins)
This section of Brooks was repaved with bike lanes in 2010. Parking was removed from one side of the street.
East Spruce: Originally, changes were made that appeared to decrease bicycle safety. MIST worked with neighbors and the City to return one section of diagonal parking to parallel parking, and shift the center line over one foot to make the bike lanes safer. This seems to have worked well.
Reserve St. and Mullan Intersection
A second left turn lane from North bound on Reserve to West bound on Mullan was added. A key improvement was changing the 'permissive' left turn to 'protective'. (The green 'ball' was changed to a green 'arrow')
Citizens, the City and the Bike Walk Alliance for Missoula worked very hard for years... and the result was a TIGER grant to connect Missoula to Lolo with a bike and walk trail. This will connect Missoula to Hamilton, for a 50 mile continuous, non-motorized trail in the Bitterroot Valley. Contact Parks and Recreation (721-PARK) for more information. The trail (which will go over Reserve St.) is likely to be built in 2015.
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. update: the gap will be filled in this year (2015)
Pave the Trail? There are lots of pros and cons to asphalting the trails...We are working with psyllium and different types of pavers as alternatives to asphalt- with good results so far (two psyllium trails now on the ground)
Amtrak thru Missoula
Amtrak has 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. Much work to be done here.
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. In 2013 voters approved a measure to help improve the service.
Other goals for Missoula bus service are to reduce pollution and test the effectiveness of going 'fare free'. update: fare free service has just started in 2015 and will last at least thru 2017. Ridership records were shattered the 1st day (1-5-15)
Missoula Long Range Transportation Plan
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 and 2012 updates call for much needed improvements to the walk, bike and transit systems in the Missoula region. We are preparing for the 2016 update now.
93 S. Corridor Plan
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.
Downtown Master Plan
This plan- spearheaded by the Missoula Downtown Association- encompasses Higgins, Broadway, the Front/Main couplet and several neighborhood streets. Passed unanimously by City Council, the plan calls for prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle systems in the heart of Missoula.
UFDA- Urban Fringe Development Assessment
A land-use guidance plan developed by Development Services for the Missoula Valley
An updated zoning code for Missoula. 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.
RattleSnake Valley Plan update
A transportation committee put together a coherent plan for the Rattlesnake corridor.
Free Cycles Programs to get involved with:
BikeWell Classes: Come take the class and learn about bicycle safety and maintenance, and how the Free Cycles Community Bicycle Shop operates.
Open Shop: Come help people fix their bike, and tune up your own.
Pedal Technology: Help us build bicycle trailers, parking racks, 4-wheelers and more.
Checkout Missoula: Repair our checkout fleet, and build more. We need you. (program on hold 2015)
Festival of Cycles: Help prepare for the Fall bike building party. Next festival: September, 2015.
Pedal Education: We need help teaching 'all things cycled' at special events and at the shop.
Yellow Bikes: In partnership with ASUMOT, we help ensure that the 50 yellow bikes and the 30 semester bikes at the university are in tip-top shape.
Other MIST Programs and Projects for involvement:
Citywide Bike Share- Interns (past and present) are looking at a system that is more grass roots than the expensive, big city model.
Missoula Car Share- MUD currently has a truck share program.
Pedestrian Plazas- We often set up temporary plazas in the street.
Bicycle Boulevard/ Neighborhood Greenways Network- A working group is making presentations to the different Neighborhood Councils.
MIMOST- A long term survey of citizens on transportation values, desires and ideas.
Demo projects- These help get the ball rolling and ideas flowing.
Data Collection- endless!
Other ways to help:
Website: Add new sections or help with routine maintenance.
Library: We have resources of all kinds at the Free Cycles shop and are looking to grow and
catalogue the documents.
Legal Documents: Do you like to do paperwork? We might have some volunteer tasks just for you.
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.
mist @ strans . org