Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Members of the Missoula City Council on Wednesday approved a contract to update the city's transportation demand model – a process that takes place every four years.

Aaron Wilson, the city's transportation planner, said the professional services agreement with LSA Inc. will evaluate changes in the city's transportation system and offer a future transportation forecast.

“This is a tool we use in our long-range transportation planning, and to forecast impacts in the transportation system to use in our planning work,” Wilson said. “We update it every four years.”

Wilson said the Metropolitan Planning Organization develops a new model every four years to project current infrastructure and development patterns, along with future growth and any infrastructure work included in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

The last Long Range Transportation Plan was adopted by City Council in 2021. That plan recommended roughly 71 projects valued at around $208 million through 2050. Of that, around $112 million was earmarked for complete streets, $20 million for active transportation and $33 million for roadway extensions.

The existing plan also seeks to reduce the share of single-occupancy vehicle trips by 34%, triple the current share of bike and walk trips, and quadruple the share of current transit trips.

The contract for the new transportation demand model is set at $85,000. The funding was included in the FY '24 budget and is funded by a federal grant.

“This is really an Metropolitan Planning Organization project,” Wilson said. “We'd like to get that (demand model) underway ahead of our Long Range Transportation Plan update.”