Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians will find the area around the Madison Street Bridge and the north entrance to The University of Montana campus safer and easier to navigate when the Arthur Avenue traffic improvement project opens for business Friday, Aug. 26.
Drivers are encouraged to pay extra attention to new signs and signals and to lane markings. To read more about the specific changes to traffic flow or to see a map, visit the city of Missoula website at http://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/.
The project, officially called the Fifth/Sixth/Arthur and Maurice Intersection Safety and Circulation Improvement Project, dates back to the fall of 2005, when a Montana Department of Transportation proposal was not supported by the public and lacked funding. That sent UM and city leaders back to the drawing board, where with design help from WGM Group they came up with a project to address safety and traffic circulation improvements but not increase capacity.
UM funded the majority of the project with a $1.25 million Special Improvement District in the neighborhood, for which UM will pay all of the assessments. The city and the MDT each contributed about $200,000 in labor and materials. City crews provided street restoration with milling and paving, and MDT furnished and funded the new traffic signal at the corner of Fifth Street and Arthur Avenue.
“This project is a fine example of the power of working collaboratively to solve problems locally,” said Missoula Mayor John Engen. “The basic design was conceived in a conference room at City Hall with all the partners at the table, and it does everything we need it to do: It handles a large volume of vehicles, puts traffic where it belongs, dramatically improves pedestrian safety, is aesthetically pleasing and costs a lot less than a version that was previously proposed and rejected. Good stuff all the way around.”
The project improvements will be especially welcome on football and basketball days as well as during the numerous cultural events held on campus year-round, said UM Executive Vice President Jim Foley.
“It really is a testament to the city, MDT and UM working together to make the community better and to make a safer area around The University of Montana,” Foley said. “The community, the University and the public should be proud of it.”