Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) With the project’s first phase finished years ago, the Montana Department of Transportation is poised to begin the next phase of Russell Street, and Missoula County has lent its voice of support to the work.

This week, commissioners signed a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, backing MDT and the City of Missoula’s pursuit of a federal regional connector grant.

“The Russell Street project addresses an immediate need for improved infrastructure while also supporting the broader regional transportation network,” the county wrote. “As an essential corridor for both local and regional traffic, enhancements to Russell Street would benefit businesses and industries reliant on efficient transportation.”

After years of planning and work, MDT in 2018 began to widen Russell Street to five lanes between Dakota Street and West Broadway. The roughly $50 million project also included a new four-lane bridge over the Clark Fork River.

Once the project was completed in 2020, the Missoula City Council signed a highway funding agreement with MDT to help expedite the project’s second phase, which at the time was estimated at $40 million.


MDT has been working to secure right-of-way along the narrow corridor to accommodate the project.

“It’s a massive, monstrous project,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick.

While the work will fully convert Russell to a regional connector and help improve the flow of traffic, it’s also expected to improve freight shipments across the city. While it’s not part of the Russell Street project, the city already has identified a future need to extend Russell to the interstate and connect it to a new interchange.

“With increased growth in Missoula and Western Montana, the demand on existing infrastructure is expected to rise,” the county noted. “Improving Russell Street ensures Missoula can effectively manage traffic needs while fostering continued development and prosperity in the region.”

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Gallery Credit: Stacker

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