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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

  • England Boulevard

The evaluation committee looked at the ten identified project elements and independently scored each. The project scoring criteria was based on:

  • Safety

  • Traffic congestion relief

  • Access to land for economic development

  • Options for all modes of travel

  • Potential environmental and permitting challenges

Missoula County Commissioners and City Council heard the committee’s recommendations. The elected officials concurred with the committee’s prioritization, and the project continued advancing toward the next milestone, designing the prioritized project area to 100 percent design completion. This allowed the project team to most accurately determine costs and other factors that were weighed in making the final determination as to which project locations will be first advanced to construction. Additionally, the team continues to work towards completion of all the right-of-way necessary for project elements that may not be constructed with the first round of funding.

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