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Missoula Streets and Trails

Van Buren, Orange, I-90

2021 update: Roundabouts were built at these locations which seems to have greatly improved safety and flow. The roundabout design heavily favors motor vehicles however. We are working on retrofit proposals to better serve people walking and biking.


2017 update:

Current plans call for two roundabouts at the I-90 ramps junction with Van Buren Street.  This will be constructed in summer of 2018.  MIST has several safety concerns with the proposed design.  Most notably are the angles of entries and exists that seem to allow higher speed than can be deemed safe; also, the northbound Van Buren to eastbound I-90 outer lane that diverges to the higher speed Interstate is sure to be a safety challenge to people on bikes.  Please get in touch with us if you would like to help develop solutions for making this a better project. 


The State of Montana initiated a project to do three things:

improve the intersection of Van Buren Dr and I-90
improve the intersection of Orange Ave. and I-90
improve I-90 through the Missoula Valley

Initial meetings showed the Department of Transportation favoring new traffic signals at the off-ramp intersections, and expanding I-90 from four lanes to six lanes through the Missoula Valley.  In addition, part of the project aims to reduce the sound impacts from the Interstate.

The following comments were submitted by MIST when this project was open for public comment in the summer of 2006:


We have several concerns regarding the Montana Department of Transportation statement:

(Originally located at:

"Phase 1 study, concluded in 2004, identified deficiencies related to interchange configuration, traffic operations, and traffic noise at these interchanges. Currently, project development is under way that will consider possible mitigation measures such as ramp acceleration enhancements, an auxiliary lane on I-90, traffic signals at the ramp terminals and noise abatement measures. Upon final determination, project improvements will be designed and constructed."

Specific comments and concerns from MIST:

1- We have strong concerns with an 'auxiliary lane on I-90'. Previous DOT comments have indicated a preference for making I-90 six lanes through town. This would be too many lanes and would likely induce more traffic and increase air and noise pollution in the Missoula Valley.

2- ‘Intersection improvement' should be a goal of the study, not jumping to a traffic signal conclusion. A modern, single lane roundabout may be the solution instead of more signals. Modern single lane roundabouts make for great gateways into historic, residential areas. Moreover, a single lane roundabout would allow a lane reduction from 2 to 1 on Van Buren (Broadway to Vine) which would then allow a bike lane and widened sidewalk on that stretch of road. Currently the bike lane ends at the I-90 underpass and picks back up at Vine. Completing this bike lane is essential for better bicycling movement in that area.

3- A completed, safe and accessible bike and walk system should be an outcome of the project, regardless of intersection control devices chosen.

4- We support the project goal of creating 'noise abatement measures.'

5- If a signal is chosen, then utilize a bicycle signal head that it is triggered by motion or an in-ground loop. Also, a pedestrian count down should be installed. Give priority phasing to non-motorized transportation.

6- Look at the bigger picture: every development happening east and west of Missoula affects Missoula directly. This proposed traffic signal at Van Buren/ I-90, for instance, is directly related to the subdivisions at Rock Creek, in Granite County (500 homes proposed 30 miles east of Missoula), in Milltown, and so on. In short, we are all connected and good land use planning (place-based and not sprawl) and good transportation infrastructure (options-based and not automobile dominated) will ensure a more sustainable future for Missoula and Montana. Please look at incorporating the spirit of these ‘bigger picture' comments into this specific study.

7- More outreach to the public is needed, and more encouragement for the public to summit comments, either on-line or in writing is needed.

(People may submit written comments to the Montana Department of Transportation Missoula office at PO Box 7039, Missoula MT 59807-7039, or online at www.mdt.mt.gov/mdt/comment_form.shtml, noting comments are for project CN 4855.)

Thank you for considering these comments.

Bob Giordano, Director, Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transportation,
Full-time resident of the Rattlesnake Valley




Unsafe Double Lane Roundabout Proposal

This is one version of a roundabout proposal for Van Buren and I-90.  Pictured are double lane roundabouts.  Double lane roundabouts are not nearly as safe as single lane roundabouts, especially for pedestrians and people on bikes.  Single lane roundabouts would promote traffic safety and efficiency while saving space.  MIST greatly supports single lane roundabouts.

The design was changed to mostly single lane roundabouts in 2014, and construction is slated for 2018.



Single Lane Roundabout Proposal for Orange and I-90

We mostly support this single lane roundabout that was built at the Orange Ave. and I-90 off-ramp intersection... some of the motor vehicle speeds are too high as the roundabout geometry allows for that.  We plan to help retrofit this roundabout in the future to lower speeds and increase safety and accessibility for walking and biking.  There is a trail head on the north side of I-90 near this location.

Here's a close-up

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