Russell Street, in the heart of Missoula, has been under discussion for redevelopment for at least the past 25 years. The discussions became more formal when the 1996 Long Range Transportation Plan identified 'Russell Street Improvements' as a future funded project. An EIS was performed from about 2000 to 2010, with the Record of Decision concluding that an expansion to 5 lanes for motor vehicels and adding sidewalks and bike lanes to both sides of the road to be in the best interest for meeting the project purpose and need.
MIST analysis shows that a 3-lane roadway combined with right-sized roundabouts would properly handle all traffic needs for a long time to come. We also recognize that current planning techniques are based on decades of data and momentum. In this way, the current design seems to to a good job of blending roadway thru put needs with neighborhood desires.
One of the defining features of the Russell design is a raised bicycle lane- a mountable curb with a 45 degree slope will allow people on bikes to move off and on the bike lane- while providing some visual and actual separation from motor vehicles. The visual narrowing of the street should help calm speeds and make the roadway feel more human scale.
While we and others have strongly advocated for 10 foot wide lanes, the end result was 11 foot wide lanes. This is better than the traditional 12 foot wide lanes. We see future sections with 10 foot wide lanes, as the roadway transitions to more residential uses south of 3rd St.
The next phases- Idaho to Wyoming, then to 3rd, then to Mount- can and should have a different design.