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Active Project - Van Buren Street Interchange

Van Buren Street Interchange

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Van Buren Street Interchange Project Completion

The Montana Department of Transportation has finalized construction on the Van Buren Street Interchange project. Two four-spoke roundabouts and a sound wall were built in the summer of 2018, and finishing work, including landscaping and a roadway chip seal, was completed this June and July.

The Van Buren Street Interchange was originally built in 1966. Missoula’s population growth has resulted in increased traffic volumes, which far exceeded the capacity of the previous interchange. With the addition of two four-spoke roundabouts, one at the eastbound interstate ramp and the other at the westbound interstate ramp, traffic congestion is reduced during peak travel times. Each roundabout is 104 feet in diameter to accommodate large vehicles.

The roadway was chip sealed in June, which will keep the roadway in good condition for years to come. Roadways markings were repainted at that time. Landscaping, sidewalks and trail connections were completed this July.

Landscaping work included planting 53 new trees that are beneficial to the local ecosystem. The past landscaping required significant water and manpower to maintain. The area was also home to a large number of invasive species and unhealthy trees. Drought-tolerant grasses and native trees (Ponderosa Pine and Bur Oak) were incorporated to reduce water use and maintenance.

All new trees and landscaping are irrigated with sustainable irrigation systems with climate-sensing technology, saving Missoula taxpayer dollars.

The shared-use path runs along the west side of Van Buren Street and sidewalks line the east side of the street.

Additional work included retaining walls, storm drain, lighting, signing, pavement markings, and an irrigation system. The entire project area extended from Broadway to just south of Poplar Street.

Artist Lillian Nelson was commissioned by The Missoula Public Art Committee to complete a mural on the retaining wall at the interchange. The mural will span 113 feet and portrays the gap between Mount Sentinel and Mount Jumbo as Salish and Kootenai hunting parties once knew it. Rattlesnake residents provided the funding for the project.

The Montana Department of Transportation is grateful to the Missoula community and Rattlesnake residents for their patience and continued involvement during the project.

Project Overview

The Van Buren Street Interchange project is an infrastructure solution designed to improve safety and reduce delays for Missoula drivers and pedestrians, both today and for years to come. It concentrates on meeting the needs of the traveling public while creating a healthy, sustainable landscape.

Interchange Roundabouts

Missoula's population growth has resulted in increased traffic volumes that exceed what the current interchange is designed to accommodate, especially during peak hours. If the Van Buren Interchange, originally built in 1966, is not improved, residents will face increasing traffic congestion, longer commute times, and a rising risk of accidents. The Van Buren Street Interchange project will incorporate roundabouts at the Van Buren Street intersections immediately north and south of Interstate 90. These roundabouts will help move traffic from all directions more efficiently, resulting in less congestion. By promoting a continuous flow of vehicles, traveling in the same direction, roundabouts reduce driver delays; they also significantly diminish the opportunity for serious accidents. Additionally, roundabouts are more cost effective to maintain than conventional signalized intersections.

Impacts to Vehicle and Pedestrian Traffic

In the initial phase of tree removal and replacement, traffic will not be impacted and delays are not expected. Once construction starts on the interchange in April, significant traffic delays, detours, and closures will go into effect. Planning extra travel time and using alternate routes, whenever possible is recommended. The Montana Department of Transportation will maintain bike and pedestrian facilities throughout the duration of the Van Buren Street Interchange project.

Project Timeline

Tree removal and replacement starts in late March 2018 and will take several weeks. The larger infrastructure improvements will begin in April 2018 and be completed, weather permitting, in November 2018.

The project consists of reconstruction of the Interstate 90/Van Buren Street Interchange to include a 4-spoke roundabout at the eastbound interstate ramp and another one at the westbound interstate ramp. The project includes sound walls along the north side of the westbound off-ramp and the westbound on-ramp. It also incorporates a sound wall along the westbound shoulder of the I-90 over Van Buren Street. Other improvements will include shared use paths along the east and west side of Van Buren, retaining walls, storm drain, lighting, signing, pavement markings, landscaping, and an irrigation system. The project will extend on Van Buren Street from Broadway and to just south of Poplar Street.

General Roundabout Statistics

  • - 90% reduction in fatal accidents
  • - 75% reduction in crashes resulting in injury
  • - 40% reduction in pedestrian accidents
Van Buren Street Interchange Timeline
Van Buren Street Interchange Timeline
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Landscape Plan

In addition to traffic flow, improving the landscape is an important part of the Van Buren Interchange project. Established approximately 40 years ago, the current landscaping requires significant water and manpower to maintain. Additionally, the project area is home to a high number of invasive species and unhealthy trees, as well as shrubs that cause safety issues.

To help remedy these issues, the project will establish new landscaping that meets modern design standards. By implementing numerous cost-effective solutions developed by a landscape architect, Montana Department of Transportation will deliver a safer and more environmentally sustainable landscape. As part of the improvements, 53 high-value trees that are beneficial to the local ecosystem will be planted in the interchange area; 165 existing trees will be preserved.

Examples of plants to be used in landscaping plan
Examples of Plants to be used in Landscaping Plan
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After landscaping is complete, the Van Buren project area will have 32 more healthy trees overall and the new trees will be irrigated.

Simultaneously, shrubs that create visibility issues for drivers and pedestrians will be removed. Drought-tolerant grasses and native trees will be incorporated to reduce water use and maintenance, ultimately saving Missoula taxpayers money.

All new trees and landscaping will be irrigated with sustainable irrigation systems that can detect and adjust to the weather. Currently the interchange contains almost 10 acres of irrigated lawn. This total irrigated area is being reduced to 3.6 acres of low-water turf, native grasses, and native trees. The remaining six acres will be non-irrigated mix of dryland grasses and wildflowers. Closer to the intersections, several new kinds of grasses will be planted including Creeping Red Fescue, Turf-Type Tall Fescue, Idaho Fescue, and Sheep Fescue. These low-water grasses will serve as the transition from highly maintained turf to the non-irrigated, dryland grasses.

Van Buren Interchange Area Landscaping Statistics

  • - 53 new trees to be planted (Ponderosa Pines and Bur Oaks)
  • - 165 environmentally beneficial existing trees in and near the project will be preserved
  • - 64 failing or invasive species trees to be replaced either with new trees and/or additional sustainable landscaping
  • - 21 viable trees will be replaced as part of improvements

Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Initial tree and shrub removal will begin in late March to maintain compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The MBTA protects migratory birds and forbids disturbing or moving their eggs and nests. Montana Department of Transportation cannot remove trees or shrubs if migratory birds are nesting in them so landscaping must begin before the birds return in the spring. By removing potential nesting sites before birds come back to Montana, any possible conservation-construction conflict is eliminated and the project can move forward as scheduled.

Questions? Contact us!

For questions or more information, please call 406-207-4484 or email .