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Pedestrians, vehicles, a bicyclist and a construction worker fill the intersection of Higgins Avenue and Front Street in downtown Missoula earlier this year during the first day of work to make the sidewalks on hundreds of street corners more accessible to those with disabilities. The multi-year project, continued since last fall, saw the construction of more than 300 ramps in Missoula. 

Two years of sidewalk upgrades on more than 300 sidewalk ramps in Missoula is complete.

The $3.2 million American with Disabilities Act upgrades in Missoula finished slightly ahead of schedule, which should mean a little less construction congestion this summer.

The project area, spearheaded by the Montana Department of Transportation, included 46 intersections on Orange Street, Stephens Avenue, Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Broadway and Higgins Avenue. Improvements include larger landing areas, gentler grades and reflective flashing beacons.

“The Missoula ADA project is part of the Montana Department of Transportation’s statewide plan to increase accessibility,” said Acting District Administrator Bob Vosen. “Across Montana, we’re working to provide equal access for everyone to be able to get to work, to school, to medical appointments, and to things like community events through ADA improvements. Our entire community benefits when we remove access barriers for our friends and neighbors.”

No local taxes were used to fund the improvements; instead, MDT used money through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program.

A total of 49,000 square feet of sidewalk and 9,500 linear feet of curb were improved as part of the project. Missoula ADA was managed by WGM Group and construction was performed by Knife River Corp.

“The contractor was responsive to residents and businesses who were impacted by the project, and we were able to quickly deliver a large number of ADA improvements by working with them,” Vosen said. “Missoula ADA stayed right on schedule — even finishing a little early — which is commendable given that hundreds of locations were part of this project.”

More than 40 cities across Montana have already received or are slated to undergo accessibility improvements as part of the Montana Department of Transportation’s statewide ADA transition plan.

In Missoula, the corners that were updated were driven by public need and input.

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“Partnership with the community was important for the Missoula ADA project,” said Vosen. “We met with several interested parties before we started designing this project. Those folks told us where the improvements were most needed as they related to routes where the department could take action. These improvements were crucial steps toward better access for all across the city.”

Meanwhile, two new projects started this month, both using nighttime work to avoid heavy traffic.

On Interstate 90, a pavement preservation project will run from the Wye to the Van Buren Street interchange. It's expected to last throughout the summer.

A second project involves building a concrete barrier rail on Reserve Street between River and Mullan roads, and will run through August.

Other summer construction work includes the ongoing Russell Street Broadway to Dakota project. The temporary signals, roadway work and bridge construction will lead to lane restrictions and longer wait times. Alternative routes are recommended.

Work on the Van Buren Street interchange is under way, with chip sealing, striping and median and sidewalk improvements, as well as trail connections and landscaping, expected to wrap up this summer.

The 11-mile stretch of the Frenchtown Frontage Road is ongoing, and includes wider shoulders and better site distance improvements. Traffic delays can be expected at times.

The two-year, $15 million Bonner Bridges project has resumed, with traffic in both lanes of I-90 reduced to two lanes.

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