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Letters: City Council finally talking about traffic in Miller Creek

I read an article in the Missoula Current this morning about (finally) Miller Creek getting some attention regarding traffic! This is much needed. I’m sure the conversation which the article summarized was much broader, but I want to make sure that the issue of development, traffic and parks on UPPER Miller Creek is also on the civic radar.

We finally got one of the police departments to place a speed meter near the bottom of Upper Miller Creek (posted speed is 35, which is reasonable … traffic was regularly 45). The meter did seem to make people aware of their speed, and slow down. More signage is needed.

As is revamping the round-a-bout at the intersection of Upper and Lower Miller Creek roads, ensuring there are buffer strips between sidewalks and roads, ensuring developers are NOT allowed to give the city money instead of setting aside green space or only setting aside steep, unusable hills, and updating the intersection at highway 93.

Since we moved onto Ravenwood Lane in 2013 traffic has exploded. We used to see and hear a couple of cars a minute, never have to wait to turn into or out of the lane, and the roundabout at the intersection of Lower and Upper Miller Cr worked perfectly.

Completely different story now! It’s a continuous stream of traffic up and down, broken only by the pause created by the light at 93. Although there was a sidewalk installed on the upper half of Upper Miller Creek, there is no buffer so it gets completely covered with gravel.

The lower portion seems to be plowed mainly by good samaritans, leaving the rest of us to post-hole on the upper portion. There is room on most of the road for the sidewalk to be set back from traffic by 2-4 feet, which would create a much more usable and reasonable travel path. Can’t we use some of that $40 million for ‘parks and recreation’ for this?

Drivers on Lower Miller Creek approaching the round-a-bout can’t see the backed-up line of cars on Upper Miller Creek, and no one seems to understand the concept of yielding to the right, so they enter the round-a-bout without pause. Cars are regularly backed up 100 yards from the round-a-bout on Upper Miller Creek and there are frequent fenders-benders in the winter as cars coming down the hill can’t slow or stop in time.

At busy times (morning and evening and school times) I’ve waited to enter the round-a-bout while 10 or more cars from Lower Miller Creek blithely zip through without pause. No concept of one goes, the other goes. Any other time, I generally have to wait for 3 cars before finding an opening. There’s no wait on Lower Miller Creek and almost always a wait for cars on Upper Miller Creek.

Most likely, the sight-line between Lower and upper Miller Creek roads needs to be better established so that drivers on the former can actually see the line on the latter, or stop-signs instead of yield signs used for entry.

Undoubtedly you are all aware that traffic is increasing from the Old Hwy 93 road straight across to Miller Creek, so that it is not uncommon for only 2 cars from the single left lane coming out of Miller Creek to pass on a light cycle. That leaves 10-20 cars who are trying to go straight or also south on 93 piled up. As well, traffic coming from the city heading up Miller Creek rather frequently backs up into the left turn lane for Walmart on Brooks! Not cool.

It’s a scary, scary intersection for pedestrians and bicyclists!

There are many, many issues to be attended to and City/County planners have not assisted in creating a healthy future environment by allowing developers to run with the bit in their mouths, increasing density beyond plans and zoning regulations, allowing them to pay the City instead of honoring the requirements for parks and green spaces, or thinking about walkability and access and connectivity of off-street pathways and parks.

Thank you all for starting the conversation. LOTS of issues. I hope this is the first of much more attention, planning and reporting on this area.