Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Aided by a federal grant and matching funds from the state, the City of Missoula plans to launch a study of Reserve Street and consider potential safety changes to the corridor.

On Wednesday, members of the City Council agreed to move forward with the safety study and accept the $308,000 federal grant. The Montana Department of Transportation is providing $77,000 toward the study.

“We expect this grant to build upon the city’s previous plans and vision,” said Deborah Postma, a transportation planner with the city. “It would also allow MDT to evaluate and prioritize safety improvements. The goal is to identify strategies to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes along this corridor.”

Members of the Transportation Policy Coordinating Committee several years ago began looking at Reserve Street with both current and long-term projections. At the time, the city found that traffic on Reserve had been steady over the years with around 35,000 daily trips.

Since then, the city has annexed a wide swath of land west of Reserve and, with a federal grant, has laid the basic infrastructure to support an estimated 6,000 new housing units. Development in the area is rapidly unfolding and traffic on Reserve Street is for some a growing concern.

“This is a really great opportunity to expand on efforts to make Reserve Street safer, particularly as we have more and more development west of Reserve,” said council member Mirtha Becerra, who represents the area.

Among other things, Postma said the study will identify existing conditions within the roadway, evaluate a range of alternatives and suggest potential projects and their costs.

The city received a similar grant in 2019 to study South Avenue, which enabled it to apply for funding to redevelop the corridor. It was awarded construction funds in 2022.

Planning efforts along the Highway 200 corridor through East Missoula also led to the receipt of a federal construction grant. Earlier this month, the project received $24 million to do the work.

“We had the highway 200 corridor plan, and that allowed us to apply for construction funding,” said Postma. She added that the city will select a planning consultant in June.

The resulting report should be completed by the middle of 2026.

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Gallery Credit: Ashley

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