Montana,  Quality of Life Benefits of Transportation,  Safety

Improving Safety and Mobility for a Growing Community – Van Buren Street Interchange Project in Missoula

In 2018, the Montana Department of Transportation addressed safety and congestion concerns at a “major gateway” interchange into Missoula, while improving the multimodal infrastructure and aesthetics for the community.

Since original construction of the Van Buren Street Interchange in 1966, the city of Missoula has seen tremendous growth – both in residential population and visitation. This interchange connects the traveling public with services and attractions that include the University of Montana, medical facilities, outdoor recreation and the ever-growing economic hub of downtown Missoula.

The Van Buren Street Interchange Project started with construction of two 4-spoke roundabouts – one each at the eastbound and westbound ramps of Interstate 90. Decades of growth had created traffic volumes beyond the capacity of the original interchange design, and the completed roundabouts have reduced congestion, delays and the risk of serious or fatal crashes by promoting continuous traffic flow in the same direction at reduced speeds.

Beyond the roundabouts, the project had another important goal: to improve multimodal transportation infrastructure. The scope included a widened 12-foot shared-use path connecting to the existing trail system, ADA access ramps that improved mobility options, and flashing beacons that increased safety for pedestrian crossings and non-motorized trail traffic.

Landscaping improvements included updates to restore the interchange’s ecosystem and support sustainable irrigation practices. Installation of new, aesthetic noise walls along Interstate 90 and the beautification of the interchange with a Salish and Kootenai Mural, commissioned by the Missoula Public Art Committee, were included.

MDT’s improvements to this interchange align with Missoula’s long-range transportation plan to decrease traffic congestion, improve air quality, and increase multimodal options. Overall, the Project increased traffic flow efficiency and safety for all modes of transportation, while enhancing quality of life for residents and quality of experience for Missoula’s visitors for years to come.

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