The Mullan neighborhood has been experiencing growth and development pressures for many years. Constrained by mountains, rivers and recreation areas, Missoula has limited options for well-planned, affordable development. Building the Mullan neighborhood’s foundation for today and tomorrow is one piece of the puzzle. Determining what that looks like with limited available funding is another.
To begin tackling this challenge, Missoula County, the City of Missoula, and numerous partners secured a $13 million BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) Grant. While this is a great step in the right direction, the application sought $23 million.
Now, because there is less federal funding, planning efforts are underway and the project team now has the framework in place to recommend which elements will be delivered first, with current funding, and which must be delayed until future revenue becomes available.
Just because a fraction of funding is available to deliver this project doesn’t mean that only a fraction of critical needs now exists. The team has developed an innovative approach, establishing a design for the key transportation corridors, trails, and utilities that will serve the area. The elements prioritized to have the most immediate benefit to the public will be the first constructed using BUILD Grant dollars and local contributions.
The evaluation committee, comprised of government officials and industry experts, ranked ten project elements outlined as part of the original BUILD Grant application. The committee includes:
Josh Slotnick – Missoula County Commissioner
Mirtha Becerra – Missoula City Council
Jordan Hess – Missoula City Council
Ryan Frey – Missoula Building Industry Association (MBIA)
Jim Bachand – Missoula Organization of Realtors (MOR)
Kim Latrielle – Missoula Chamber of Commerce
Jeremy Keene – Missoula City Public Works Director
Shane Stack – Missoula County Public Works Director
Of the original BUILD Grant application, the following were scored as the five locations that would lead to the greatest benefit for the public:
Mary Jane Boulevard South
Mary Jane Boulevard North
Tipperary Way Trail
George Elmer South
The evaluation committee looked at the ten identified project elements and independently scored each. The project scoring criteria was based on:
Traffic congestion relief
Access to land for economic development
Options for all modes of travel
Potential environmental and permitting challenges
As a next step, Missoula County Commissioners and City Council will soon hear the committee’s recommendations. If elected officials concur with the committee’s prioritization, the project will continue advancing toward the next milestone; designing the entire project area to 30 percent completion. This allows the project team to more accurately determine costs and other factors that are weighed in making the final determination as to which project locations will be advanced to construction. Additionally, the team will work towards completion of all the Right-of-Way necessary for project elements that may not be constructed with the first round of funding. This decision is anticipated to be made in July.