A controversial alley barricade behind the former Hoagieville drive-in restaurant will be moved slightly south to accommodate new traffic patterns for a beer, wine and coffee taproom that’s replacing the popular Higgins Street business.
Initially, the Missoula City Council intended to remove the 30-year-old barricade and have the taproom owner pay to pave the entire length of the alley and install speed bumps to lower traffic speeds. But after protests from neighbors over concerns about the potential for speeding traffic through the alley — especially by Domino’s Pizza drivers — as well as public notice concerns, the council reconsidered its decision.
Councilor Bryan von Lossberg made the new motion Wednesday morning, calling it a compromise between the public’s use of a right of way, and the two neighbors who could be negatively affected by the complete opening of the alley. In particular, he noted safety concerns with garbage trucks having to back up to access some of the trash cans, and semi-trucks loading and unloading items being forced to maneuver through tight spaces.
“I must confess, I came into this with a predisposition to open the alleyway completely. Blocking the right of way is bad policy,” von Lossberg said. “I’m proposing a solution to move the barrier south as a compromise.”
Under the new configuration, the barricade will be moved slightly south to a private residence’s property line, keeping the alley closed beyond to the south. The alley will be paved from the property line north to where it connects with Domino’s. A right-turn only sign will be installed at the entrance to the alley from the new taproom.
The barrier was installed in 1988 midway in the alley behind Hoagieville, which connects South Avenue to Livingston Street, after neighbors complained about high traffic volume and speeds, particularly from the pizza delivery drivers. At an earlier meeting in March, the Domino's managers said they had little to no control of the drivers as they left the premises to make deliveries, and asked that the barrier remain in place.
Von Lossberg chided the owners, saying they shouldn’t expect legislative solutions to what is a personnel matter.
“I absolutely reject the sentiment that once the drivers are in their cars and leaving, that they have no control,” von Lossberg added. “We can only rely on legislation to a certain point. We can’t legislate to control every aspect of their behavior.”
Councilor Gwen Jones and other members of the Public Works Committee unanimously passed the motion.
“My highest priority for the City Council is safety, and we do have safety issues with garbage trucks,” Jones said. “I totally acknowledge this is a commercial area near residential, and this is a good compromise.”
Taproom owner Chris Goble said the change was needed because the building footprint will be altered with the new business, eliminating one of the two accesses from Higgins.
On Monday night, the full council is expected to finalize the new arrangement at its regular meeting, which begins at 7 a.m. in the council chambers at 140 W. Pine St.