Downtown Safety–Access–Mobility Project

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The City of Missoula is excited to move forward with a $25 million dollar Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant for the Downtown Safety, Access, and Mobility (SAM) project.

May 16, 2024 Update:

  • The Downtown SAM grant agreement was officially signed by City Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation in April. The next steps include hiring a project manager and consultant team.
  • The Downtown SAM resident Working Group is meeting regularly with City staff and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the project. Summary and presentation documents from each working group meeting will be located in the Documents folder. Click here to see the May 10, 2024 presentation by City staff. The next working group meeting is June 18, 2024 at 11:30 am at the First Interstate Bank basement training room (101 E Front St.)
  • As the project progress, there will be opportunity for input. See the anticipated construction timeline below for more information.
  • Stay informed by signing up for newsletters on this project on the top right side of the screen!

About the Downtown SAM Working Group

The Downtown SAM Project Leadership Team selected 19 community members to participate in the resident Working Group. The Working Group will provide feedback from the community to the City staff and team working on the Downtown SAM project. You can view the residents selected for the working group in the Memo to Mayor Andrea Davis.

The Working Group meetings will be open to the public, but there will not be a public comment period. While the working group is not the venue for public comment, there will other public participation opportunities throughout the Downtown SAM process. The Questions & Comments section at the bottom of this Engage Missoula page is a venue to give comment that the Project Leadership Team and Working Group will hear.

Description

The City of Missoula applied for a large federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant in February 2023. This grant would provide significant federal funding to Missoula to enhance safety and mobility in the Downtown area. The following projects were included in the grant application, and because they are close to one another and have like purposes, we combined them to create the Downtown Safety–Access–Mobility (Downtown SAM) overarching project:

Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines announced the grant award on June 22, 2023. It is one of the largest federal transportation grants ever received in Montana. The project will rebuild streets, modernize traffic signals, update streetlighting in the Downtown and improve access to our riverfront parks and trails. To read more about the announcement, view the press release on the grant award announcement, and watch Mayor Hess's interview with NBC Montana. Receiving this federal funding helps to fulfill long-term safety and mobility improvements in Downtown Missoula that are included in the Downtown Master Plan.

For further information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Please take a few moments to take the survey at the bottom of this page or ask any questions.



Background

The Downtown Safety and Mobility (SAM) Project combines related projects in Downtown Missoula: Higgins Ave. Corridor Plan and Front & Main Two-Way Conversion. Downtown Missoula saw significant investment in new buildings, hotels, restaurants, breweries, and housing over the past ten years, but we have not invested in modernizing our street and transportation system.

Benefits of the Downtown SAM include:

  • creating safer streets for walking, biking, driving, and public transportation;
  • improving access and circulation for Downtown businesses, workers, residents, and visitors;
  • establishing an inviting streetscape that showcases Downtown Missoula as a destination; and
  • supporting economic health and investment in Downtown.

The original concept emerged in the 2009 Downtown Master Plan and was further evaluated in the updated 2019 Master Plan.

Improvements

Higgins Avenue from Brooks to Broadway:

  • Dedicated left turn lanes
  • Protected bike lanes
  • Standardized lane widths
  • Curb extensions
  • Improved transit stops
  • Wide sidewalks
  • Street trees
  • Improved lighting and ADA upgrades
  • The conversion of Higgins will result in up to 50% reduction in crashes.
  • An analysis of research on similar projects across the country indicates a strong potential for economic benefits, in part due to improvements to “quality of place” and in part due to the increased spending potential from new bicycle and pedestrian customers.

Front and Main St. Two-way Conversion:

  • Restores Front and Main streets to two-way traffic
  • Intersection improvements
  • Curb extensions
  • Signal upgrades, including a new signal at Front and Madison
  • A protected bicycle loop running west on Front Street and east on Main Street
  • Bus stop improvements

Riverfront Trail Connections

This is included in the North Riverside Parks and Trails Plan.

  • Widening Ron’s River Trail to create safe and accessible connections between the trail and Front Street at four locations: Ryman Street Gateway, Pattee Street, Kiwanis Park, and the east side of Beartracks Bridge.
  • Ryman Street between Front Street and the trail will be reconstructed, creating access for pedestrians and protected bicycle lanes between the Central Business District and the Riverfront Trail system.
  • A new ADA-accessible ramp from Beartracks Bridge to the Riverfront Trail will provide a long-needed direct route between the bridge and riverfront commuter trail system.

Downtown Signal Optimization

The City of Missoula and Montana Department of Transportation will upgrade signal detection, controllers, and other hardware with this project and conduct analysis and optimization of the entire downtown signal system following construction.

Economic Benefits

The Benefit-Cost Analysis Memorandum demonstrates that Downtown SAM will result in nearly $5 in benefits and savings for every $1 invested. The value includes over $20 million in savings from crashes, $25 million in increased real estate value, and $25 million in health benefits. While there is an anticipated opportunity cost of about $2 million in potential traffic delay, there will also be $2.5 million in savings from reduced auto usage and emissions reduction.

Public Engagement

Over 3,000 community members participated in the 2019 Downtown Master Plan. More recently, public outreach for the Higgins Avenue Corridor Study included over 750 survey responses and 50 direct conversations with more than 70 business owners and employees. Public outreach for the Front and Main Two-Way conversion project engaged 141 residents and 14 stakeholder groups in 2021. In addition, there are Engage Missoula pages for the Higgins Avenue from Brooks to Broadway project, and the Front/Main Two-Way Conversion project. These pages include existing planning documents for the projects.

There is still an opportunity to provide input. City staff continue to meet with business owners and other stakeholders to hear concerns and answer questions and will continue to if the City is awarded the RAISE grant.

In addition, the Missoula Parking Commission is currently hosting public engagement with the Citywide Parking Plan.

The City of Missoula is excited to move forward with a $25 million dollar Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant for the Downtown Safety, Access, and Mobility (SAM) project.

May 16, 2024 Update:

  • The Downtown SAM grant agreement was officially signed by City Council and the U.S. Department of Transportation in April. The next steps include hiring a project manager and consultant team.
  • The Downtown SAM resident Working Group is meeting regularly with City staff and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the project. Summary and presentation documents from each working group meeting will be located in the Documents folder. Click here to see the May 10, 2024 presentation by City staff. The next working group meeting is June 18, 2024 at 11:30 am at the First Interstate Bank basement training room (101 E Front St.)
  • As the project progress, there will be opportunity for input. See the anticipated construction timeline below for more information.
  • Stay informed by signing up for newsletters on this project on the top right side of the screen!

About the Downtown SAM Working Group

The Downtown SAM Project Leadership Team selected 19 community members to participate in the resident Working Group. The Working Group will provide feedback from the community to the City staff and team working on the Downtown SAM project. You can view the residents selected for the working group in the Memo to Mayor Andrea Davis.

The Working Group meetings will be open to the public, but there will not be a public comment period. While the working group is not the venue for public comment, there will other public participation opportunities throughout the Downtown SAM process. The Questions & Comments section at the bottom of this Engage Missoula page is a venue to give comment that the Project Leadership Team and Working Group will hear.

Description

The City of Missoula applied for a large federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant in February 2023. This grant would provide significant federal funding to Missoula to enhance safety and mobility in the Downtown area. The following projects were included in the grant application, and because they are close to one another and have like purposes, we combined them to create the Downtown Safety–Access–Mobility (Downtown SAM) overarching project:

Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines announced the grant award on June 22, 2023. It is one of the largest federal transportation grants ever received in Montana. The project will rebuild streets, modernize traffic signals, update streetlighting in the Downtown and improve access to our riverfront parks and trails. To read more about the announcement, view the press release on the grant award announcement, and watch Mayor Hess's interview with NBC Montana. Receiving this federal funding helps to fulfill long-term safety and mobility improvements in Downtown Missoula that are included in the Downtown Master Plan.

For further information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Please take a few moments to take the survey at the bottom of this page or ask any questions.



Background

The Downtown Safety and Mobility (SAM) Project combines related projects in Downtown Missoula: Higgins Ave. Corridor Plan and Front & Main Two-Way Conversion. Downtown Missoula saw significant investment in new buildings, hotels, restaurants, breweries, and housing over the past ten years, but we have not invested in modernizing our street and transportation system.

Benefits of the Downtown SAM include:

  • creating safer streets for walking, biking, driving, and public transportation;
  • improving access and circulation for Downtown businesses, workers, residents, and visitors;
  • establishing an inviting streetscape that showcases Downtown Missoula as a destination; and
  • supporting economic health and investment in Downtown.

The original concept emerged in the 2009 Downtown Master Plan and was further evaluated in the updated 2019 Master Plan.

Improvements

Higgins Avenue from Brooks to Broadway:

  • Dedicated left turn lanes
  • Protected bike lanes
  • Standardized lane widths
  • Curb extensions
  • Improved transit stops
  • Wide sidewalks
  • Street trees
  • Improved lighting and ADA upgrades
  • The conversion of Higgins will result in up to 50% reduction in crashes.
  • An analysis of research on similar projects across the country indicates a strong potential for economic benefits, in part due to improvements to “quality of place” and in part due to the increased spending potential from new bicycle and pedestrian customers.

Front and Main St. Two-way Conversion:

  • Restores Front and Main streets to two-way traffic
  • Intersection improvements
  • Curb extensions
  • Signal upgrades, including a new signal at Front and Madison
  • A protected bicycle loop running west on Front Street and east on Main Street
  • Bus stop improvements

Riverfront Trail Connections

This is included in the North Riverside Parks and Trails Plan.

  • Widening Ron’s River Trail to create safe and accessible connections between the trail and Front Street at four locations: Ryman Street Gateway, Pattee Street, Kiwanis Park, and the east side of Beartracks Bridge.
  • Ryman Street between Front Street and the trail will be reconstructed, creating access for pedestrians and protected bicycle lanes between the Central Business District and the Riverfront Trail system.
  • A new ADA-accessible ramp from Beartracks Bridge to the Riverfront Trail will provide a long-needed direct route between the bridge and riverfront commuter trail system.

Downtown Signal Optimization

The City of Missoula and Montana Department of Transportation will upgrade signal detection, controllers, and other hardware with this project and conduct analysis and optimization of the entire downtown signal system following construction.

Economic Benefits

The Benefit-Cost Analysis Memorandum demonstrates that Downtown SAM will result in nearly $5 in benefits and savings for every $1 invested. The value includes over $20 million in savings from crashes, $25 million in increased real estate value, and $25 million in health benefits. While there is an anticipated opportunity cost of about $2 million in potential traffic delay, there will also be $2.5 million in savings from reduced auto usage and emissions reduction.

Public Engagement

Over 3,000 community members participated in the 2019 Downtown Master Plan. More recently, public outreach for the Higgins Avenue Corridor Study included over 750 survey responses and 50 direct conversations with more than 70 business owners and employees. Public outreach for the Front and Main Two-Way conversion project engaged 141 residents and 14 stakeholder groups in 2021. In addition, there are Engage Missoula pages for the Higgins Avenue from Brooks to Broadway project, and the Front/Main Two-Way Conversion project. These pages include existing planning documents for the projects.

There is still an opportunity to provide input. City staff continue to meet with business owners and other stakeholders to hear concerns and answer questions and will continue to if the City is awarded the RAISE grant.

In addition, the Missoula Parking Commission is currently hosting public engagement with the Citywide Parking Plan.

What questions or comments do you have about Downtown SAM?

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  • Share Hopefully the community will be well informed and able to weigh in (not just from older folks who have the time to pay attention to these things). on Facebook Share Hopefully the community will be well informed and able to weigh in (not just from older folks who have the time to pay attention to these things). on Twitter Share Hopefully the community will be well informed and able to weigh in (not just from older folks who have the time to pay attention to these things). on Linkedin Email Hopefully the community will be well informed and able to weigh in (not just from older folks who have the time to pay attention to these things). link

    Hopefully the community will be well informed and able to weigh in (not just from older folks who have the time to pay attention to these things).

    Maybe Missoula asked 1 day ago

    Good morning! Thank you for your comment. We have a resident working group of all ages and background who are meeting regularly with the City staff to bridge the gap between the community and this Downtown SAM project. Each working group member is tasked with getting feedback from their peers and fellow community members that they regularly interact with. Also, the staff are continuing to meet one-on-one with business and property owners in downtown who have concerns/ideas for this project/

    In addition, we will continue to have public meetings where everyone is welcome to give feedback on this project, both before and during construction. The next larger public meeting will likely take place this fall/winter when there are updates about this project. Currently, the staff are convening the working group, and will be soon hiring a project manager and engineering firm to move the project forward. This process will likely take several months.

    We will continue to pass on comments/questions put in this comment area to the working group and project leadership team. Thank you so much for staying involved!

    Maci MacPherson, communications specialist.

  • Share The memo to the mayor mentions 'non motorized mobility.' That type of language is often demeaning and should not be used. Can you please use more inclusive language? on Facebook Share The memo to the mayor mentions 'non motorized mobility.' That type of language is often demeaning and should not be used. Can you please use more inclusive language? on Twitter Share The memo to the mayor mentions 'non motorized mobility.' That type of language is often demeaning and should not be used. Can you please use more inclusive language? on Linkedin Email The memo to the mayor mentions 'non motorized mobility.' That type of language is often demeaning and should not be used. Can you please use more inclusive language? link

    The memo to the mayor mentions 'non motorized mobility.' That type of language is often demeaning and should not be used. Can you please use more inclusive language?

    Bob Giordano asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you so much for your comment! It has been shared with the project leadership team, and will be shared with the working group at their first meeting.

  • Share As a downtown Missoula bike commuter, I'm really grateful we've received this grant and I'm so excited to see what you do with it to improve safety and mobility through the higgins/downtown corridor! My dream would be to someday see a downtown where young kids could safely bike from school to the library without potentially getting plowed over by a distracted driver. This is a huge opportunity for our city and I'm really glad we've got caring, bright, passionate people at the center of this project. Good luck and don't let the haters get you down! on Facebook Share As a downtown Missoula bike commuter, I'm really grateful we've received this grant and I'm so excited to see what you do with it to improve safety and mobility through the higgins/downtown corridor! My dream would be to someday see a downtown where young kids could safely bike from school to the library without potentially getting plowed over by a distracted driver. This is a huge opportunity for our city and I'm really glad we've got caring, bright, passionate people at the center of this project. Good luck and don't let the haters get you down! on Twitter Share As a downtown Missoula bike commuter, I'm really grateful we've received this grant and I'm so excited to see what you do with it to improve safety and mobility through the higgins/downtown corridor! My dream would be to someday see a downtown where young kids could safely bike from school to the library without potentially getting plowed over by a distracted driver. This is a huge opportunity for our city and I'm really glad we've got caring, bright, passionate people at the center of this project. Good luck and don't let the haters get you down! on Linkedin Email As a downtown Missoula bike commuter, I'm really grateful we've received this grant and I'm so excited to see what you do with it to improve safety and mobility through the higgins/downtown corridor! My dream would be to someday see a downtown where young kids could safely bike from school to the library without potentially getting plowed over by a distracted driver. This is a huge opportunity for our city and I'm really glad we've got caring, bright, passionate people at the center of this project. Good luck and don't let the haters get you down! link

    As a downtown Missoula bike commuter, I'm really grateful we've received this grant and I'm so excited to see what you do with it to improve safety and mobility through the higgins/downtown corridor! My dream would be to someday see a downtown where young kids could safely bike from school to the library without potentially getting plowed over by a distracted driver. This is a huge opportunity for our city and I'm really glad we've got caring, bright, passionate people at the center of this project. Good luck and don't let the haters get you down!

    Alison Riley asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you so much for your comment! It has been shared with the project leadership team, and will be shared with the working group at their first meeting.

  • Share Is this money coming from the Biden infrastructure bill, and if so, did the senators and representatives from Montana vote for it to pass? on Facebook Share Is this money coming from the Biden infrastructure bill, and if so, did the senators and representatives from Montana vote for it to pass? on Twitter Share Is this money coming from the Biden infrastructure bill, and if so, did the senators and representatives from Montana vote for it to pass? on Linkedin Email Is this money coming from the Biden infrastructure bill, and if so, did the senators and representatives from Montana vote for it to pass? link

    Is this money coming from the Biden infrastructure bill, and if so, did the senators and representatives from Montana vote for it to pass?

    Rachel H. asked 4 months ago

    Hello Rachel,

    Thank you for your question. Senator Tester voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Senator Daines did not. Representative Zinke was not in office when the vote took place in the House.

    The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant that will fund the Downtown SAM project is a bit of a mix though, since it originated as TIGER in the American Recover & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009. It has gone through several iterations, including BUILD and RAISE. Senator Tester was in office and would have voted for ARRA, however Senator Daines was not in office at the time. 

    I hope that answers your questions! - Maci MacPherson

Page last updated: 21 May 2024, 03:24 PM