MISSOULA – The ADA sidewalk improvement project has been going on around Missoula since 2018 and is aimed to make the city more accessible for people with disabilities.
While the project won’t make Missoula 100-percent accessible, the federal funding for the project offers a chance to take care of a large amount of problem areas all at once.
“The city routinely does sidewalk inventory, and over the past two years all the sidewalks in Missoula have been inventoried and all the curb ramps have been where their missing where their existing where they are non-compliant,” said Travis Hoffman, Advocacy Coordinator for Summit Independent Living. “There is ongoing work to identify where updates need to be made but there’s not always a lot of money to do so. So the availability of this funding provided a unique opportunity to do a lot of them all at once.”
Hoffman and Summit Independent Living worked with the city to identify which areas needed the ADA project’s attention first.
“We kind of brainstormed different streets around Missoula where some of the curb ramps needed to be upgraded,” Hoffman added. “We choose Orange Street, Broadway Street and down on the south side of the river, Higgins and some of the side streets.”
Without a project such as this, the city’s accessibility can be limiting at times, preventing people from being able to leave their homes.
“So making the sidewalks accessible is kind of the first step in allowing people to get out of their homes,” Hoffman said. “So somebody can get out of their home but they get out onto the sidewalk, then they cant get off the sidewalk. They can’t really go anywhere and so curb ramps are really important for access for people with disabilities to go places, to access business, to go to school, to go to work. All those types of things.”
Hoffman also says that since the funding for the project included federal money, the areas chosen had to be MDT routes.
MDT hopes that the downtown portion of the project is finished by July.
Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News