Roads, trails, sidewalks, parking, public transportation — we use these every day to deliver people, goods, and services to the places they need to be. 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. Our investment in public transit to achieve seven-day-a-week service is a huge step forward in meeting our goals. 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. Our policies need to have the flexibility to meet these moments, both present and future. Likewise, we need to have a long-range vision for what rapidly changing technology can bring to these efforts. Finally, we need to be conscious of the ways that we can promote equity, diversity and inclusion through transportation policy by breaking down traditional geographic barriers.
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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