Missoula Connect, our long-range transportation plan, is rooted in community values in formed by public engagement. We've worked with our project committees and Missoula area residents, gathering feedback over the last year. During the summer and fall of 2020, we developed a framework to identify and prioritize projects for funding and implementation. This framework includes five steps, and we are ready for your input on Step 5: Recommended Projects.
How we got here:
STEP 1: COLLECT PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS
We gathered more than 200 project and program ideas, including recommendations from the 2016 Long-Range Transportation Plan and new suggestions from our committees and from residents across the region.
STEP 2: SCREEN PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS
We sorted through the ideas and identified those that are appropriate for a regional long-range plan. We combined some projects and passed others along to the City and County for their planning efforts. Finally, we moved the program ideas into a separate list so they can be added to our final Missoula Connect recommendations.
STEP 3: SCORE PROJECTS
Even after screening the projects, we had more than 150 individual ideas for improving the transportation system. We used over 20 criteria to score these projects and determine which best meet Missoula Connect goals.
STEP 4: DEVELOP SCENARIOS
We used the projects that scored the highest—or those that are most likely to advance our region’s goals—to develop three transportation network scenarios. These three scenarios and two approaches to growth are the focus of community outreach in December 2020.
STEP 5: PRIORITIZE RECOMMENDED PROJECTS
We’ve taken the feedback you shared about the scenarios that best meet your needs and worked with our committees to create a Recommended Scenario. The Recommended Scenario combines projects from all three of the previous scenarios, with a focused on Enhanced Connections and Regional Equity. We’re ready for you to review this final scenario and let us know if there are any critical projects missing.
In fall 2020, we developed three transportation network scenarios. Each scenario was designed to meet the goals of Missoula Connect, with different emphases:
New Connections focused on expanding the roadway network and creating new routes for all modes. The scenario included larger projects like complete street reconstruction, roadway extensions, and new trails and bridges.
Enhanced Connections focused on maintaining and improving the existing transportation network rather than creating new routes or additional vehicular capacity. It included smaller key connection projects, such as closing trail gaps, establishing greenways, and completing intersection improvements.
Regional Equity focused on projects that specifically advance the objective of creating a more equitable region. Projects included lower-cost improvements, like neighborhood greenways and shared-use paths, that could make it easier for people to get around without a vehicle and support greater connectivity within neighborhoods.
In December 2020, we asked you to weigh in on these three scenarios by sharing your preferences and identifying the types of projects that are most needed in the region. We hosted five community meetings and attended meetings with the Planning Board, Missoula City Council, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the Downtown Partnership, the Downtown Business Improvement District, and the Lolo Community Council. We also created an educational video, an updated project website, and an online survey and provided printed materials for distribution at the Missoula Food Bank and Aging Services.
Feedback from the public showed a preference for the Enhanced Connections scenario, followed closely by the Regional Equity scenario and an interest in combining projects from all three scenarios. You identified complete streets projects as the most important project type to prioritize in the recommended scenario, followed by trails and shared-use paths.
Support for the Enhanced Connections and Regional Equity scenarios aligns with the preferences expressed in the 2019 Missoula Area Transportation Survey. These scenarios both include investments for walking and biking as well as projects that improve transit, which were the top priorities in the 2019 survey.
Developing the Recommended Scenario
Based on feedback from the community, input from the LRTP and MPO committees, and the evaluation process, the project team developed a draft Recommended Scenario. We began by including all projects that were in both the Enhanced Connections and Regional Equity scenarios. Then we added projects—including projects from the New Connections scenario, as well as projects that were in either the Enhanced Connections or Regional Equity scenarios—through the following steps:
We reviewed project type feedback and specific project notes from the community meetings, the online survey, and our committees to identify projects that people flagged as critically important.
We revisited the evaluation process scores to identify projects that ranked highest in our equity weighting.
And we identified projects with special importance or with catalytic potential for a specific neighborhood or area.
Missoula Connect Recommended Scenario
The Recommended Scenario includes a diverse mix of projects across the region that connect neighborhoods and key destinations, support inward growth, and advance regional equity. The Recommended Scenario includes major investments in the following types of projects:
Complete streets to improve transit operations and multimodal comfort and safety on critical corridors like California Street and Broadway;
Bicycle, pedestrian, streetscape, and greenway improvements to enhance neighborhood connections and accessibility;
Shared-use paths and trail extensions to expand regional connectivity for active travel modes; and
Enhanced crossings and safety improvements at high-conflict intersections.
The Recommended Scenario also includes all “committed” projects, which are those that have funding allocated within the current 5-year Transportation Improvement Program (federal funds) or the City’s or County’s Capital Improvement Programs (local funds). Committed projects include multimodal improvements on Higgins Avenue, reconstruction of Russell Street, as well as the Mullan Area BUILD Grant roads.
All projects that are not included in the Recommended Scenario are considered “illustrative.” The list of Illustrative Projects is used to supplement the Recommended Projects list and provides the region with flexibility to seize opportunities that may arise. Illustrative Projects can become Recommended Projects, and vice versa, through future evaluation and consideration. The lists of Recommended Projects and Illustrative Projects can be found below; our interactive map provides descriptions of all recommended and illustrative projects.
After we have your input on the Recommended Scenario, select programs and policies, and the ways we spend our revenues, we’ll be ready to create the draft long-range transportation plan.
The project team will prioritize projects within the Recommended Scenario to produce a final fiscally constrained list of recommended projects. This list will identify near-, medium-, and long-term priorities for the 30-year Missoula Connect horizon.
We’ll finalize the program and policy recommendations, adding partners and identifying the most important actions for the region. And we’ll bring all of this together into the draft plan for your review in May 2021.