Infrastructure

When I say infrastructure is one of my priorities, I am talking about roads, trails, sidewalks, parking, public transportation... Basically, everything we use to deliver people, goods, and services to the places they need to be every day. As Missoula grows, we've had and will continue to have opportunities to expand our trails, connect our urban bike-ped paths, and improve the ways Missoulians get around town. We need to make decisions with our minds in the present and our eyes on the future. We also need to make sure that these decisions are not adversely impacting the ability of our fellow community members to live, work, play, and shop in the areas we love. If we are making decisions to encourage alternative transportation, we need to make sure the current opportunities will adequately serve the need. We cannot simply ignore parking and vehicle access issues in this conversation or we will create bigger problems or end up with underutilized areas with significant public investment. Our policies need to have the flexibility to meet these moments, both present and future. 

Successful infrastructure is often not exciting because it is a basic need. If we arrive where we are going, to work, to school, to play, to shop, to entertain, safely and timely, we've succeeded. Often, we only think about infrastructure when we are frustrated it isn't working for us. We need to make sure that the decisions and planning we make around infrastructure look at the present uses and demands in a realistic way, as well as future desired modes. If we want to encourage shifts in transportation modes we must make sure the infrastructure is there to support it. More simply, if we are approving development with hopes that it will be attractive to non-vehicular modes of transportation, we need to make sure services like busses and trails are present with enough regularity to support those plans. 

As the opportunities present themselves, we should continue to emphasize expanding our trail systems and assuring bicyclists and pedestrians are safe on our streets and sidewalks. These are things that make Missoula attractive to tourists and citizens alike. 

As long as people rely on cars, we will need to address parking.  Parking is another issue that people often only talk about when it isn't working for them. Recent developments that have included sub-surface parking, especially as we encourage inward development downtown, are beneficial and we should find ways to enhance these opportunities moving forward. If we want our gathering centers to be vibrant and used by all, such as our wonderful downtown, we need to continue to manage parking and accurately project the need. 

Finally, as we balance new investments we need to continue to protect those that we have already made. The city has made great strides over the last two years in plowing side streets and generally clearing snow. The ability to plan road maintenance projects in tandem with upgrades the city makes to the water system has also been a positive development.  Making sure potholes are filled and roads are maintained will always be a basic function of local government, and one we must not lose sight of.  

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