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Missoula city council calls full Russell Street funding "a big deal"

Posted at 2:29 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 16:29:43-05

Missoula City Council members say an offer of full funding for the second phase of reconstruction on Russell Street is a "big deal" for the city.

But they're also noting it's taken nearly 25 years to get this point, evidence of the problems with infrastructure funding across the country.

The council is receiving some very good news, accepting an offer from the Montana Department of Transportation to provide $31 million in state and federal funding to complete the rebuilding of the street.

The project will extend from Dakota south to Mount, adding features like sidewalks, bike lanes, and a rebuilt roadway.

The city will use the majority of its local "urban project" funds for the next five-to-10 years to complete the estimated $47 million for the work.

Council members are enthusiastic about the agreement, but also puzzled it's taken this long to complete a project that was first identified in the mid-90s.

"It's absurd frankly. It's absolutely insane that as a country we don't prioritize infrastructure and that we have such an infrastructure backlog and such a dearth of federal funding to make an impact on that," said Missoula City Councilman Jordan Hess.

"The increase in cost for any infrastructure project, whether it's sidewalk or roadway construction, is increasing exponentially," added Missoula City Councilwoman Mirtha Becerra.

The agreement will have the city paying for any "extra" features not covered by the federal funding. But the city can also stop the project if bids should go beyond the agreed-upon budget.

The full Missoula City Council is expected to approve the agreement Monday.