The Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation (MIST) has joined with the Riverfront Neighborhood Council to propose changes to both 5th and 6th Streets that would reduce traffic from two one-way lanes to a single lane, with the addition of a wide bicycle lane.

After a Missoula City Council Public Works Committee meeting on Wednesday, November 13, councilor Adam Hertz of ward two, said the idea of removing one lane of traffic was a troubling one.

"The changes would affect 5th and 6th Streets between Russell and Higgins," Hertz said. "It's a neighborhood project where I guess they're trying to reduce speeds, increase safety and make some bicycle lanes to make the streets more user-friendly. There are unintended consequences that I have concerns about, such as pushing traffic onto adjacent streets such as 4th Street."

Hertz said he believes the changes may actually put people in danger.

"Instead of making the road more bicycle-friendly, I have concerns that it could make the road less safe," Hertz said. "The way that those lanes would converge from two into one at the intersections of Orange and Russell with 5th and 6th. The idea is to do it as a pilot project."

Hertz said at first, the changes would be temporary.

"With a pilot project, rather than going through an expensive study process, the changes to start might just be the placement of cones, where some of the neighbors might want something a little more permanent like paint, and then to revisit the project after a while to see if it is working," Hertz said. "I imagine they'd wait until spring before going forward with any of the changes."

More discussion on the topic will take place at the next meeting of the Public Works committee on Wednesday, November 20.

Missoula City Councilor Adam Hertz