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Engineers set to complete early design for Mullan-Reserve infrastructure project

While the city and county of Missoula were pleased to receive a sizable federal grant to begin infrastructure work west of Reserve Street last year, the award was less than requested, and the time has come to begin prioritizing projects.

That will be the task of DJ&A as it works to complete a scoping contract awarded last month by the county. The work will identify project needs and priorities, and help determine where the $13 million in federal funding will be applied to achieve the greatest impact.

“The contract is for them (DJ&A) to develop a 30% design package proposal,” said Shane Stack, director of Public Works for Missoula County. “You’ll see that shortly.”

Missoula County applied for the federal BUILD grant twice before and was denied each time. It found success on its third try, netting $13 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation in a highly competitive process.

But the grant was $10 million less than the $23 million the county initially applied for, and some aspects of the project will have to wait until future funding sources are identified.

“We’re doing 30% design of the entire BUILD project. It’ll be roads, trails, water, sewer, and stream restoration on Grant Creek,” said Stack. “Throughout that process, we’ll determine what items stay in the scope and what items we’ll save for funding when it comes around.”

Conceptual plans include connecting George Elmer Drive and Mary Jane Boulevard from Mullan Road to West Broadway, and extending England Boulevard further west. Trail planning is also part of the plan.

The transportation grant will help fund nearly three miles of new roads and open access to nearly 1,500 acres of developable land west of Reserve, officials have said. It could also lead to the placement of thousands of new homes and an estimated 7,000 jobs.

“The 30% design will include public involvement, public outreach, and essentially get us to a point where we have a solid idea what will be scoped in the (National Environmental Policy Act) as well as what’s going to be built with the $13 million,” said Stack. “Things are going well. We’re on an accelerated timeline.”

Jeremy Keene, director of Public Works for the city of Missoula, said the 30% design will be completed by summer. The process will identify the project’s progression based on available funding.

“Because we were awarded about $10 million less than what we had requested, our team is charged with determining the what, when, where and how of building the $13 million now and what projects will be re-evaluated at a later date, once additional funding has been identified or secured,” Keene said. “We are in the process of developing those parameters now.”

Both Stack and Keene said the two governments are working closely together. Missoula County signed an interlocal agreement this week, and the two governments are sharing costs.

“While the Mullan Road BUILD Grant was technically awarded to Missoula County, the greatest strength of this project is the fact that it is highly collaborative,” Keene said. “We are taking a team approach, where the city of Missoula, Missoula County and our engineering consultants with DJ&A work as a cohesive unit to develop this entire project.”