By TYLER BARTON/Montana State News

A finalized version of a transportation plan that is set to address the city’s rapid expansion until at least 2035 was presented at the Bozeman City Commission meeting Monday.

The Bozeman Transportation Master Plan, or TMP, is a planning process that was initiated 16 months ago. It is meant to assist city planning partners, as well as the Bozeman community in general, in guiding transportation infrastructure and implementation. It includes all travel and transportation modes, and will guide decisions until at least the year 2035.

Essentially, the TMP is the growth plan for all of Bozeman’s streets, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, walking paths, and other such transportation routes.

After a long period of planning, Public Works Director Craig Woolard said, “We’re down to what I would consider the final stretch of the process where we start to make recommendations for Bozeman’s transportation improvements over the next several decades.”

Jeff Key, senior project manager and TMP consultant, echoed this statement, saying, “We’re getting towards the end of this planning process.”

Over the months, in addition to planning the city’s streets and ways of travel, the staff behind the TMP reached out to the Bozeman community to get an idea of what their concerns were. This involved surveys, community outreach, and even a Wikimap commenting platform, where users could submit a screenshot of a map of Bozeman and attach a comment to it, in order to draw attention to a specific part of the city’s streets.

Key spoke about the challenges of planning Bozeman’s travel routes, and the principles that guide them: “I like the term ‘balance’ in terms of transportation planning because we have a lot of needs, a lot of different constituents, and we’re trying to solve the big dilemma of ‘what does the future hold for us’… (as the) community is expected to grow twofold. That’s what the Census Bureau and forecasts are saying.”

A brief synopsis of the plan was laid out before the City Commission, including projected expansions for streets and other travel routes.

Joe Gilpin, another TMP consultant, detailed some of the challenges Bozeman pedestrians face, calling attention to the lack of sidewalks on some major streets, issues with certain crosswalks, some trails that meet mid-block that don’t have any accommodation to get across the street, neighborhoods that were built without any sidewalks, and subdivisions that expand piecemeal but do not build sidewalks as they go.

One major finding for the consultants of the TMP was that walkers and bicyclists in the valley west area experience commutes to work that are lower than the national average, whereas the rest of Bozeman is higher than the national average. The TMP hopes to address this discrepancy, and provides recommendations to fix this.

Since the TMP is set to guide expansion until 2035, consultants are always mindful of potential future projects. Key said, “We do see a need for strengthening the roadway system someday. That doesn’t mean we’re recommending a project this very minute to go out there and do that, but we do acknowledge as development happens that you need to pay attention to getting this gridded network completed.”

TMP consultants will review their plan in a meeting on Thursday, March 2, at 6:30 p.m., at the Bozeman High School South Cafeteria. The public is encouraged to attend.

– edited by Virginia Holst

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