A consulting firm hired to study the impacts of building Missoula College off East Broadway delivered its draft analysis to the University of Montana this week, and it could be released for public review next week.
Stephanie Lauer, project manager with JBR Environmental Consultants, said the assessment must analyze the college’s cumulative impacts, including traffic and parking, and any effects on the Clark Fork River corridor.
“We’re really close,” Lauer said this week. “We’re in a final review.”
The four-story, $32 million Missoula College is currently proposed for university property located off East Broadway, just across the river from the main campus.
The Montana Environmental Policy Act requires the project to undergo the review before it can win final approval from UM President Royce Engstron, and before construction can begin later this year.
Mike Reid, vice president of finance and administration, said Engstrom received the draft assessment Monday and is reviewing the document’s findings.
“If he feels comfortable the plan and scope is correct, it’ll go out and be released for public comment,” Reid said. “Once it goes out, there’s a two-week review period to collect additional comments.”
At a scoping session held in November, Lauer had initially expected the draft to be released for public comment by mid-December. That date was pushed back into January.
Lauer said it took additional time to address the impacts of traffic and parking. If the issues rise to the level of concern in the draft analysis, it could further delay completion of the final study.
“After we receive public comments, they’ll revise the document as appropriate,” Reid said. “If any additional analysis needs to be done, we may have to do additional research and revise the schedule.”
Early plans call for 430 parking spaces at the college, with an additional 240 located across East Broadway on a railroad right of way. Another 40 spots will be shared with MonTEC, located next door.
The building’s footprint will cover roughly 31,000 square feet. The project’s first phase will include about 100,000 square feet, with 33 classrooms and offices for 60 faculty members.
Reid said the university would announce the release of the draft document for public review likely next week.