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Grant given to East Missoula to research strategic plan to renovate roads

MISSOULA COUNTY

Grant given to East Missoula to research strategic plan to renovate roads

EAST MISSOULA, Mont. - Several roads in East Missoula are in need of a makeover. Residents are now one step closer as a grant has been awarded from the Sonoran Institute to research and make a strategic plan for what streets need the most help.

Jessica Shaffer said, "I think it's a little hidden gem in its own, and kind of a diamond in the rough, and I can't wait to see it improve more."

That's Shaffer's take on East Missoula.  She works at the River of Life Church, which is just a few feet from highway 200.

She's one of many who believe the town needs help with overhauling Highway 200 and some of its side streets. Curbs, sidewalks, gutters are all immediate needs.  It even extends to street lights.

Shaffer said, "We do an annual ministry of helping out on Halloween, because there are no lights, and there are a lot of kids here that trick-or-treat."

River of Life Church hands out glow sticks on Halloween, because the town is, for the most part, in the dark.

One narrow spot that needs help is the Montana Rail Link overpass on the west edge of town.  It's a location where motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians all get pinched.

City Councilman Dick Ainsworth said, "We think it'll just get worse with the construction of the Missoula College out there, which is going to add to the traffic that is going to go that way as well back into town."

Ainsworth says that the uncontrolled access into and out of Ole's Country Store is the biggest concern.  Right now, it's basically a free-for-all.

Ainsworth feels the plan is at least 10 years overdue.  He added, "All this is right now is a grant to do some studying or planning if you will.  No physical work, but it is kind of the first step in the process."

As for Shaffer, she knows it's a turn that needs to be taken.  She concluded, "That will be a huge help.  I think it'll help the whole community feel safer and warmer, and I think it'll give it a nice facelift."

The planning and research portion of the project should be done by June.  As for when the first shovel will hit the ground, Ainsworth says there is no timetable right now.


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