Over the next couple of weeks, City of Missoula crews will work on a safety striping project on South Fifth Street West and South Sixth Street West between Higgins Avenue and Russell Street. Bicycle Pedestrian Program Manager Ben Weiss explains.

“The roads that are currently two travel lanes between Higgins and Russell are going to get narrowed down to one travel lane with extra turn lanes at the signalized intersections,” Weiss said. “Higgins, Orange and Russell will get extra lanes. For the length in between where it is neighborhood, it will be one lane and a buffered bike lane with the other space.”

According to Weiss, this project was initiated by the Riverfront Neighborhood Council and the City Council. The City hired a consultant to study traffic volumes, crash history, speeds, pedestrian safety and connectivity.

“They were seeing issues with speeding, crashes and wrong way driving,” Weiss said. “The big one that we heard was the pedestrian double threat. You start to cross the street and one lane stops for you, but then people go around that car and don’t see you crossing. That caused a lot of near misses.”

Weiss says this striping project is all about safety.

“There were 277 crashes on 5th and 6th street between 2007 and 2014,” Weiss said. “That equates to nearly one crash every ten days on those two streets. It will slow traffic and it will separate people driving from the parked cars. Hopefully we won’t have as many side swipes and property damage crashes that we saw before.”

The signal detection upgrades were a one-time cost of about $24,000. The time and materials of the new striping configuration will cost about $11,000, which is $4,000 more than the current striping layout.

Photo Courtesy of the City of Missoula
Photo Courtesy of the City of Missoula

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM