Missoula Using $25 Million Grant for Downtown Safety Project
KGVO News spoke this week to Jeremy Keene, Director of Public Works and Mobility for the City of Missoula about the grant and what that $25 million will accomplish.
$25 Million Federal RAISE Grant for Downtown Infrastructure
“Its great news from Missoula,” began Keene. “It's a significant amount of money that will let us reinvest in downtown. It'll do a lot of basic stuff like just modernizing downtown infrastructure with things like new streetlights and modernizing traffic signals, providing basic pavement maintenance and sidewalk replacement.”
Keene said the grant will also help complete several long term downtown projects.
The RAISE Grant will help Complete Important Projects for Downtown
“It'll also help us accomplish a couple of projects that have been in our plans for several years, in fact, a lot of years,” he said. “Converting both Front and Main Streets back to two way traffic and adding bikeways and pedestrian facilities to Higgins Avenue as well as making some accessible connections from the (Beartracks/Higgins) bridge down to Caras Park and really just kind of improving access to that area.”
With every federal grant come some strings attached, and Keene provided details for the RAISE grant.
“For the funding that we got, it will provide money for both design and construction, and so that'll allow us to hire a consultant team to work through the process of creating final engineering, construction drawings, as well,” he said. “Because it's federal money, we have to do NEPA. That's the National Environmental Policy Act, which means we have to evaluate all the impacts of the project, and so a lot of the things that we've been talking about, like the number of lanes or downtown parking, those things will have to be evaluated in NEPA and we have to describe the impacts and come up with mitigation measures if those impacts are significant.”
A New Citizens Advisory Committee will be Created Through the Grant
The grant is so impactful that Keene said it will necessitate what is called a ‘Citizens Advisory Committee’ to help administrate the funds and the projects.
“One of the great things about this grant was that it really got everybody engaged, and so we had a lot of good conversations after we submitted the grant about what people were concerned about,” he said. Because of this we learned a lot more about the project and how to make it better, and we want to continue to have those conversations. So if folks are interested in reaching out to us, we're happy to set up meetings. And then as we get into the project a little bit more, we're going to set up a Citizens Advisory Committee so a group of folks that can be really plugged into the project and help make sure that we're considering all the various interests that are in downtown.”
Click here to get complete details about the RAISE grant.