Missoula, Here are Two Simple Solutions That May Improve Traffic
Driving across Missoula recently I was stuck in traffic. That is nothing new when trying to head across town at the busiest time of the day in the afternoon. While I was sitting there in my vehicle with no air conditioning, I noticed a couple things that could possibly help improve traffic flow a bit in our fair city.
Not Everyone's Commute in Missoula is the Same
First off, I am not a city planner or an engineer. I am a radio announcer. I am also very aware of how lucky I am to be able to able to work a shift where I don't have to face a lot of traffic on my commute. The biggest issue I normally have is trying to not hit a deer on my to work. On the rare occasions when I am stuck in traffic, at 5:30pm on a Wednesday evening for example, it gives me a chance to pause and consider why I am stuck in traffic. While sitting there thinking about some of the most infuriating intersections in Missoula, I noticed two seemingly simple things that may improve traffic flow.
Traffic Dividers Need to be Adjusted in Missoula
The first thing, that seems like a simple solution, is to remove the cement dividers in the center turn lanes that are close to intersections, or at the very least, expand them to include more vehicles. When traveling along Brooks Street, or North Reserve Street, the cement dividers only allow a few vehicles to make left hand turns. This causes other vehicles to back out into the flow of traffic, preventing vehicles from moving. This doesn't only happen during rush hour, this happens throughout the day. With Missoula's population increasing and popular businesses along these main routes, there isn't enough space for all the cars to enter the turn lane and get out of the way of moving traffic due to the cement dividers.
Missoula Needs More Controlled Left Turn Opportunities
The second thing, I would suggest, is to create more opportunities for controlled left hand turns. My father would always tell anyone who would listen, "It's impossible to make left hand turns in Missoula!". Impossible may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it isn't always easy. There are a few intersections that have good left turn opportunities, for example Brooks and Stephens. Then there are intersections that can use some help, like Brooks and Lower Miller Creek. Trying to get onto Brooks from Lower Miller Creek is difficult, to say the least. With no turn arrow available, vehicles can sit through three cycles of the traffic light and still not be clear of the intersection.
Simple Suggestions for Missoula Traffic
Nothing I suggest will solve all of Missoula's traffic problems. I am not sure there is a perfect solution for a city that had two different planners working against each other when the city was growing. This also doesn't include the drivers in Missoula, I will save that story for another day. These are just two things that I noticed recently that seem like they could improve traffic flow in Missoula with minimal changes to what is currently available.