Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) By this time next year, navigating the intersection of Orange Street and Cregg Lane will be a lot easier.

Members of the City Council this week approved a $71,000 consultant agreement to place a traffic signal at the increasingly busy intersection. Once finished, the intersection will include pedestrian crossings and other safety features.

“Cregg Lane and Wyoming is a city collector, and we want it to operate that way to concentrate some of those trips and make it the valuable connection it is between Russell and Orange streets,” said transportation engineer Ryan Guelff. “Safety and reliability for movements from Cregg Lane onto Orange Street is critical for achieving that goal.”

While Orange Street feeds the downtown district, Cregg Lane and Wyoming Street serve McCormick Park, Allegiance Field and the Old Sawmill District – a growing development that's now home to a tech business, offices, retail, student housing and several dozen condos.

When the Sawmill District was given a green light to move forward back in 2007, it came with a condition that the developer address the future need for the signal on Orange Street. A future phasing plan amended that condition, helping the city identify when the signal would become necessary.

Guelff said that time is now.

“The most recent warrant study submitted by the developer at the end of 2022 led to the concurrence that the traffic signal is warranted today, or will be in the near future,” said Geulff. “We think it's attainable to get this project designed, approved and ultimately constructed by next year, hopefully by the spring or summer time.”

The project's conceptual design.
The project's conceptual design.

Under the agreement struck with the developer, the city will fund 47% of the signal's design and construction while the Sawmill District will fund 53%. The city's portion will be covered by transportation impact fees.

Given the topography of the intersection, Guelff said a roundabout would have been cost-prohibitive.

“We'll do everything we can to create good, safe, adequate and accessible pedestrian facilities,” said Guelff. “There may be some opportunities to improve intersection geometries to narrow the crossing.”