Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) With a federal grant secured, the city plans to ink a contract with a team of experts to begin exploring the feasibility and design of a bus rapid transit system on Brooks Street.

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency said the selection committee considered two contracts and settled on a team lead by HDR in Missoula. The team includes DJ&A and Big Sky Public Relations, among others.

The contract is expected to be finalized within the coming weeks and will be preceded by a joint meeting between MRA and Mountain Line.

“When we're comfortable with the scope, we'd like to schedule a joint meeting with the MRA board and Mountain Line board to review and approve entering into that contract,” said Annette Marchasseault with MRA.

A bus rapid transit system is planned along the Brooks Street corridor.
A bus rapid transit system is planned along the Brooks Street corridor.

The City of Missoula in 2021 secured $847,000 in federal funding to study the Brooks Street corridor and a proposal to convert it to a Bus Rapid Transit system, along with other pedestrian improvements.

While the project is separate from a parallel effort to craft a master plan for the Midtown area, converting Brooks to a bus rapid-transit corridor is key to redevelopment in the area.

Among other things, concepts for Brooks include a center-running bus lane that would enable Mountain Line to launch 15-minute service along the corridor. It also includes facilities for pedestrian and cyclists, crosswalks and renewed intersections.

HDR has determined that the Brooks Street corridor will soon reach capacity. It already faces a number of challenges that impairs traffic, limits economic expansion and hinders non-motorized transportation.

If realized the corridor would accommodate all modes of travel and become suited for urban redevelopment including new housing and commercial opportunities.

Marchesseault said that because the grant stems from the Federal Transit Authority, Mountain Line will serve as the pass-through agency, though MRA will lead the consulting process.

“I'm confident we have a very strong team,” said Marchesseault, adding that the grant should be available in the coming weeks.