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Creating a Safer, More Inviting Highway 200 Corridor in East Missoula

Location: East Missoula, Montana
Completed Date: Summer 2015
Lead Consultant: Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.)
Client: Missoula County & East Missoula Community Council

Download the Final Project Report.

View or download a complete description of New Mobility West pilot projects (pdf).

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East Missoula Montana, seen from the air, with Highway 200 running left to right along the base of the hill.

Challenge

The unincorporated community of East Missoula straddles Highway 200 along the Clark Fork River, just a few short miles from the City of Missoula. The highway today provides little in the way of pedestrian amenities or travel lane demarcation, even as it gains in popularity with the recreation community and serves as an important business thoroughfare. Land uses consist of low density commercial and semi-industrial uses like casinos, ministorage and automotive repair. Missoula County and the East Missoula Community Council sought to develop a community-based vision for a Highway 200 corridor that better serves pedestrians and vehicles at the same time it sets the table to attract future development.

Key Activities

Missoula County and the Community Council asked for assistance running a public visioning and design charrette. To that end, New Mobility West hired Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.) to diagnose lead a public design charrette. In May 2015, P.U.M.A. and NMW staff spent three days in East Missoula for an intensive immersion and problem solving effort.

P.U.M.A. developed a market analysis to assess local conditions and begin to outline the community’s economic identity. Working with the community team, NMW held dozens of interviews with local stakeholders and business owners to begin defining a community-based vision for the corridor. The team walked the corridor, met with representatives from the Montana Department of Transportation and held a community meeting to present and get feedback on design concepts.

Outcomes

Comparing the community vision for the corridor, existing regulations, and the market opportunities in the current investment cycle, P.U.M.A. developed a range of recommendations for design solutions within the corridor. They ranged from short term “lighter, quicker, cheaper” design solutions and non-regulatory approaches, to longer term infrastructure based solutions dealing with clearly delineating roadway surfaces from adjacent parking lots and managing traffic flows through the railroad underpass pinchpoint.

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One of the four concept cross-sections for Highway 200 developed for this project. This could include 6 foot wide detached sidewalks with a drainage swale between the sidewalk and the pavement. It could also include a bike lane and potentially left turn lanes at critical intersections.

Some key recommendations:

  • Install temporary planter boxes to define and delineate the highway right of way and intersections. This can act as a pilot project specifically in the area surrounding Ole’s Country Store.
  • Gateway treatments at the west end near the I-90 interchange and at the top of the hill just east of Staple Street.
  • Striped bike lanes and intersection delineation.
  • Consolidated parking lots with designated access points (curb cuts).
  • The railroad bridge abutments need to be widened to provide a safer bike lane and a sidewalk on the east side of the street that connects to the existing Broadway sidewalk – (this will be a topic in the MDT Highway safety audit).
  • For the complete list of recommendations, read the report.
 

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