Roundabout at George Elmer Drive & Cattle Drive

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Roundabout project drawing.

The City of Missoula's Engineering Division is reactivating the roundabout project that was planned for the intersection of George Elmer Dr. and Cattle Dr. The completed roundabout will enhance safety at this intersection for vehicles as well as for people walking and bicycling in the neighborhood.

Engineering staff members want to provide the public with updated information. They are happy to answer questions and welcome public comment on the project. Please use the Questions and Comments tabs below to ensure a timely response and to help us track comments.

UPDATE - September 30, 2020

After receiving several questions and comments about this project, City Engineer Kevin Slovarp provided the following additional information:

The water feature at its current height blocks the visibility of a pedestrian crossing Cattle Drive from north to south from the driver of a vehicle traveling east on Cattle Drive to the intersection with George Elmer Drive (GED). The water feature also "hides" vehicles approaching and within the GED intersection from the driver of a vehicle traveling east on Cattle Drive. The water feature is planned to be modified to a lower height to allow for the sight visibility hazard to be mitigated and allow for the safe travel of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists at and through the intersection. The pedestrian visibility issue is not a major concern at this time as this west leg of the intersection is currently controlled with a stop sign. The roundabout is needed for access control and a higher form of access control (roundabout from stop-control) is needed at this intersection to effectively serve 44 Ranch and Flynn Ranch residents. Without the proposed roundabout, access to/from GED will become more and more difficult as additional development occurs both north and south of this intersection. Some of those developments are in the City’s subdivision review process now. At this time, the plan is for the water feature to remain a water feature, but lower in height, and the adjacent sign modified enough for the sight visibility concerns to be successfully mitigated.

The proposed roundabout has another intended function rather than just access control. It also allows additional pedestrian safety when crossing GED. The center medians will provide a pedestrian refuge and reduce the length of pedestrian crossing distance. This is especially important as 44 Ranch 5-acre park draws residents from the Flynn Ranch development.

The City is planning on undertaking these proposed intersection improvements to proactively increase the safety of all people walking, riding, or driving at this intersection.

The center of the proposed roundabout is desired to be landscaped and not just a big concrete circle. The City will either need to take maintenance responsibilities for the planned landscaping or the HOA, residents of 44 Ranch, and/or Flynn Ranch will need to do so. If the HOA or residents take over the landscaping maintenance duties, it could likely be designed to what the residents desire, more aesthetically pleasing, and/or maintained to the degree the residents desire.

In addition to the intersection improvements at Mullan and GED, the BUILD Grant project is constructing additional non-motorized infrastructure to both sides of GED between 44 Ranch and Mullan Road.

Another aspect of the BUILD Grant project and physical construction of street improvements is a planned reduction of the current speed limit from 45 mph to 30 mph.

For more information on the BUILD Grant project, please visit https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/community-development/community-planning-services/planning-projects/build-grant.

Information on the Mullan Area Master Plan is available at https://www.mullanareamasterplan.com/home, and there is an Engage Missoula topic for the plan at https://www.engagemissoula.com/mullan-area-master-plan.


Current Status

The City is moving forward with the project because access to the area and safety need to be improved before upcoming housing construction projects begin in the area. The original plans for the project are being revised and updated, and construction is expected to begin as soon as the design is finalized and weather permits.

There have been concerns about the status of the water feature currently installed on the west side of the intersection. In order to mitigate sight visibility hazards, comply with sight visibility requirements, and have the future roundabout function as intended, the water feature must be lowered to a height of less than 30 inches. Lowering the water feature will be part of the project.

This project will be funded using both developer and City contributions.


Background

Design and construction of the roundabout was required as City Council conditions of approval for the 44 Ranch and Flynn Ranch subdivisions. Unfortunately, conflicts over design elements left the project only partially complete for many years.

The City of Missoula's Engineering Division is reactivating the roundabout project that was planned for the intersection of George Elmer Dr. and Cattle Dr. The completed roundabout will enhance safety at this intersection for vehicles as well as for people walking and bicycling in the neighborhood.

Engineering staff members want to provide the public with updated information. They are happy to answer questions and welcome public comment on the project. Please use the Questions and Comments tabs below to ensure a timely response and to help us track comments.

UPDATE - September 30, 2020

After receiving several questions and comments about this project, City Engineer Kevin Slovarp provided the following additional information:

The water feature at its current height blocks the visibility of a pedestrian crossing Cattle Drive from north to south from the driver of a vehicle traveling east on Cattle Drive to the intersection with George Elmer Drive (GED). The water feature also "hides" vehicles approaching and within the GED intersection from the driver of a vehicle traveling east on Cattle Drive. The water feature is planned to be modified to a lower height to allow for the sight visibility hazard to be mitigated and allow for the safe travel of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists at and through the intersection. The pedestrian visibility issue is not a major concern at this time as this west leg of the intersection is currently controlled with a stop sign. The roundabout is needed for access control and a higher form of access control (roundabout from stop-control) is needed at this intersection to effectively serve 44 Ranch and Flynn Ranch residents. Without the proposed roundabout, access to/from GED will become more and more difficult as additional development occurs both north and south of this intersection. Some of those developments are in the City’s subdivision review process now. At this time, the plan is for the water feature to remain a water feature, but lower in height, and the adjacent sign modified enough for the sight visibility concerns to be successfully mitigated.

The proposed roundabout has another intended function rather than just access control. It also allows additional pedestrian safety when crossing GED. The center medians will provide a pedestrian refuge and reduce the length of pedestrian crossing distance. This is especially important as 44 Ranch 5-acre park draws residents from the Flynn Ranch development.

The City is planning on undertaking these proposed intersection improvements to proactively increase the safety of all people walking, riding, or driving at this intersection.

The center of the proposed roundabout is desired to be landscaped and not just a big concrete circle. The City will either need to take maintenance responsibilities for the planned landscaping or the HOA, residents of 44 Ranch, and/or Flynn Ranch will need to do so. If the HOA or residents take over the landscaping maintenance duties, it could likely be designed to what the residents desire, more aesthetically pleasing, and/or maintained to the degree the residents desire.

In addition to the intersection improvements at Mullan and GED, the BUILD Grant project is constructing additional non-motorized infrastructure to both sides of GED between 44 Ranch and Mullan Road.

Another aspect of the BUILD Grant project and physical construction of street improvements is a planned reduction of the current speed limit from 45 mph to 30 mph.

For more information on the BUILD Grant project, please visit https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/community-development/community-planning-services/planning-projects/build-grant.

Information on the Mullan Area Master Plan is available at https://www.mullanareamasterplan.com/home, and there is an Engage Missoula topic for the plan at https://www.engagemissoula.com/mullan-area-master-plan.


Current Status

The City is moving forward with the project because access to the area and safety need to be improved before upcoming housing construction projects begin in the area. The original plans for the project are being revised and updated, and construction is expected to begin as soon as the design is finalized and weather permits.

There have been concerns about the status of the water feature currently installed on the west side of the intersection. In order to mitigate sight visibility hazards, comply with sight visibility requirements, and have the future roundabout function as intended, the water feature must be lowered to a height of less than 30 inches. Lowering the water feature will be part of the project.

This project will be funded using both developer and City contributions.


Background

Design and construction of the roundabout was required as City Council conditions of approval for the 44 Ranch and Flynn Ranch subdivisions. Unfortunately, conflicts over design elements left the project only partially complete for many years.

Please ask a question about this project.

Questions

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    The link provided in a previous question provides a clear picture of the proposed design. Zooming in on the date shows 01/09. Is this January of 2009 or January 9, 2021? If it is the former date, please explain the circumstances that led to more than a decade long delay?

    John Hancock asked 23 days ago

    Thank you for your question. The date on the plans is January 2009.  The decade long delay occurred as the two adjacent developers could not come to agreement on the funding split for the remaining work required by each of their conditions of subdivision approvals, City stepping in to facilitate the remaining work and provide the funding shortfall, and the 44 Ranch constructed water feature creating a sight visibility hazard all contributed to the delay of this project.

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    What is the total amount owed by the developers for the roundabout improvement and what progress has been made over the last month to collect it?

    John Hancock asked 28 days ago

    Thank you for the follow-up question. The City continues to work with area developers on the cost of improvements for the roundabout. Developer contacts have occurred in the past month and future communication will occur in February. The existing developments have previously set aside a specific dollar amount for each of their developments to go toward the roundabout improvements.

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    Where can we see the proposed construction plans?

    erschwenk asked 29 days ago

    Thank you for your question. The plans haven’t been updated yet as the City is working to hire a consultant to complete the final design improvements. However, the intersection has been preliminarily designed, and a drawing of the preliminary design can be viewed by following this link:  http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/DocumentCenter/View/55345/George-Elmer-Cattle-Dr-Roundabout-Plan (PDF).

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    A traffic study prepared for the Mcnett subdivision suggested the developer contribute to the roundabout. If annexation and approval succeeds some combination of homes, commercial structures, and up to approximately 650 apartments will add to traffic. Lacking information about the specific unit totals, how do you arrive at a fair price to obtain additional revenue for the project?

    John Hancock asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you again for the question. Kevin Slovarp responded as follows:

    We would base a developer contribution on the amount of traffic anticipated for the planned development to the overall traffic at the roundabout.  Residential homes contribute around 10 trips per day, and each apartment unit contributes around 7 trips per day. There are also contributions of vehicle volumes based on the type of commercial use that is anticipated.  All these trips are assigned to the transportation system and a total amount of development traffic is then assigned to the future roundabout.  These trips are compared to the total of all traffic at the intersection to develop a percentage share of the cost.  In addition, the City may be funding the design and construction costs so that the Mcnett Flats development wouldn’t directly contribute to these roundabout improvements.

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    Will this project require adding, removing, or replacing existing street lights either within Flynn or 44 Ranches to illuminate the actual roundabout?

    John Hancock asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you for your question. City Engineer for Surface Transportation Kevin Slovarp provided the following answer:

    The answer to this question is "yes and no."  The reason the answer is yes is because the existing luminaries on the west side of the road may be within Common Area platted by the 44 Ranch subdivision and the reason the answer is no is most of the existing luminaires are within the right-of-way and not on private property.  Some of the existing luminaries may need to be relocated to provide the correct amount of light in the right location.  To answer further, the final design of the roundabout will include a design component for lighting.  This lighting design will include the necessity to illuminate the center of the roundabout and all splitter islands on all legs of the intersection.  There will likely be more luminaire poles to light the center of the roundabout.  In addition, all lighting will be required to meet the City’s Outdoor Lighting Ordinance 8.64.

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    Back in 2008 the developer of Flynn Ranch received notification of project approval. Among conditions of approval is: “6. The subdivider shall be required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City, State, and the 44 Ranch developers relating to financial participation for the construction of the roundabout at Cattle Drive/George Elmer Drive, for the Mullan Road/George Elmer Drive traffic signal, and all George Elmer Drive base roadway improvements in accordance with existing City, State and 44 Ranch developer MOU’s prior to final plat approval for Phase One, subject to review and approval by Public Works.” Several questions have come up in connection with this issue including: 1. What was the overall agreed upon dollar amount that Stockyard Investments, LLC (the Flynn Ranch developer put in the memo to satisfy the participation requirement? 2. What payment frequency was established to satisfy the participation requirement? 3. Flynn Ranch was developed in three phases. Were any financial reviews conducted to determine the sufficiency of those fees in view of rising labor and construction costs as time went on? 4. Has the City of Missoula received the full payment agreed to in the (MOU) from the Flynn Ranch developer? If no, what is the outstanding balance and what is the City of Missoula doing to collect any outstanding balance? Thank you. John Hancock

    John Hancock asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for the additional question. From City Engineer for Surface Transportation Kevin Slovarp:

    1. The overall agreed upon amount was approximately $33,000 that the Flynn Ranch Developer put in to satisfy the participation requirement.
    2. There was no payment frequency as the entire amount was provided initially.
    3. The City agreed to be a financial participant in the project some time ago and agreed to provide the cost increases due to rising labor and construction costs.
    4. The City of Missoula had received full payment agreed upon in the MOU. The City will need to work with the Flynn Ranch Developer to turn this financial obligation into cash in order to construct the project.

     

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    Will the George Elmer/Cattle Dr. roundabout require altering any land or landscaping on the Flynn Ranch side of the project? This question is asked upon learning of how the Mullan Build intends to acquire land at George Elmer/Mullan.

    John Hancock asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Kevin Slovarp, City Engineer for Surface Transportation, provided the following response:  "The roundabout project shouldn’t have to alter any land or landscaping on the Flynn Ranch side of the project, but we’ll take a closer look during final design. However, the landscape will likely be affected by the BUILD trail that is planned for the west side of GED right-of-way adjacent to Flynn Ranch."

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    Will sewer be extended to the south side of Mullan with this project?

    Erschwenk asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Sewer work is not included in the George Elmer Dr. & Cattle Dr. roundabout project. However, properties south of Mullan Rd. can extend sewer main and/or contract to receive sewer service at any time.

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    We could really use a large roundabout on Mullan and George Elmer, instead of at George and Cattle. Sure, a roundabout would be ok in 44 ranch, but traffic has been low, and getting in and out has yet to be an issue. Getting out onto Mullan during busy times (especially with poor road conditions) can be difficult and dangerous. We should focus on the problem areas first.

    44ranchperson asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your input on this project. City Engineer Kevin Slovarp provided the following information in regard to traffic control at Mullan Road and George Elmer Drive:  "The intersection improvement has been included in the current BUILD Grant project and is currently being planned as a roundabout and will likely be constructed in one of the next two construction seasons by the BUILD Grant.  It is currently in design and will be at a 60% design level in another month.  The Mullan and George Elmer Drive intersection improvement will be built in the next couple of years, with the BUILD Grant project, and is mutually exclusive of the roundabout at Cattle Drive and George Elmer Drive.  These two different intersection improvement projects do not utilize the same funding source and constructing one doesn’t preclude construction the other." For more information on the BUILD Grant project, please visit https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/community-development/community-planning-services/planning-projects/build-grant. Please note that additional information about this project has been added to the original article.

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    Why aren’t you working on improving access to Mullan Rd from George Elmer Lane. Specifically turning left on Mullan Rd from George Elmer Drive is difficult and dangerous. Especially during peak hours of traffic.

    Julene asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback on this project. City Engineer Kevin Slovarp provided the following additional information:  "The City  and MDT had previously identified the intersection improvement to be a traffic signal, and the City actually moved forward with gathering data to determine if a traffic signal is warranted at the intersection.  The last time the warrant analysis was conducted, at least a year ago now, the future traffic signal was not yet warranted.  The intersection improvement has been included in the current BUILD Grant project and is currently being planned as a roundabout and not a traffic signal.  This change from traffic signal to roundabout is based on additional information gathered through the Mullan Area Master Plan process and further analysis through the BUILD Grant project.  The intersection improvement will likely be constructed in one of the next two construction seasons by the BUILD Grant.  It is currently in design and will be at a 60% design level in another month.  The Mullan and George Elmer Drive intersection improvement will be built in the next couple of years, with the BUILD Grant project, and is mutually exclusive of the roundabout at Cattle and GED.  These two different intersection improvement projects do not utilize the same funding source and constructing one doesn’t preclude construction the other." For more information on the BUILD Grant project, please see https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/community-development/community-planning-services/planning-projects/build-grant. If you'd like more information on the Mullan Area Master Plan, please visit https://www.mullanareamasterplan.com/home. We have also added updated information to the original article.