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Each day, Missoulians rely on our streets and roads to get us safely to and from work and school, to visit our local businesses, and to enjoy the many wonderful amenities and leisure activities our region has to offer. 

Because of how important transportation is to commerce, the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce regularly weighs in on the policy issues that will affect our member businesses.  The Chamber recognizes that to have a robust economy and high quality of life, Missoula needs a transportation network that is safe and efficient for all users- motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus users.  It is the Chamber’s position that safety and efficiency are best achieved by policies that generally coincide with both usage patterns and the street’s role in the transportation network.

This balanced philosophy is based on our members’ needs and guides the Chamber’s transportation advocacy. 

Russell Street Re-design:

The Chamber supported the selected Russell Street re-design because it will address this principal arterial’s heavy congestion, and brings needed pedestrian and bicycle improvements to this busy street.  Furthermore, the selected re-design uses vehicle lanes that are wide enough for the trucks and buses that rely on Russell each day, and does not use double lane roundabouts that were proven unable to handle Russell's daily traffic volume. Many Chamber members voiced their support for reasonable vehicle lane widths and workable intersections, and it made a difference- in January 2014, decision makers voted unanimously to move forward without using narrow lanes. Whether roundabouts or traffic lights are used will come up in the future.

5th and 6th Streets:

After much research and after polling our members, the Chamber successfully asked the City Council to reconsider a proposal to remove vehicle lanes from 5th and 6th streets between Higgins and Russell.  The Chamber opposed lane removal because it was not clear that the facts warranted it, and because it seemed likely to have unintended consequences for the rest of the transportation network.

2013 Mountain Line Mill Levy:

The Chamber joined the Missoula Downtown Association and Southgate Mall in supporting Mountain Line as an important investment in our community's transportation infrastructure.

2012 Long Range Transportation Plan Update (LRTP):

The Chamber informed our members of a study recommended for funding in Missoula's LRTP that would consider, among other options, removing lanes of traffic from East Broadway and Higgins Avenue.  The Chamber will continue to monitor the progress of the study and any recommendations made.

Federal Funds for the Missoula to Lolo Trail:

In 2013 the Chamber joined other community organizations in supporting a $4.5M federal grant to help fund the Missoula to Lolo trail, the final piece of a 50 mile contiguous trail between downtown Missoula and the City of Hamilton.  The Chamber supported this grant effort because trails make Missoula more attractive to tourists, relocating businesses and workers, and home buyers.  With the support of the business community, the grant application was successful. 

Higgins and Madison Bridges:

The Chamber commented on a draft planning study report for repairing these bridges.  The Chamber supports preserving both bridges’ existing vehicle capacities by keeping four lanes, as well as investigating opportunities to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  Because both bridges are on arterials that are heavily-relied upon on by through traffic and visitors to the University and downtown, it is critical that they are safe and efficient for users of all modes.

The Chamber continues to be involved as the projects move forward.