City leaders are reviewing current and projected traffic patterns through downtown Kalispell as the U.S. 93 Alternate Route approaches completion and the debate restarts over the possible reconfiguration of the Flathead County Courthouse couplet.
Robert Peccia and Associates was hired to study the road couplet around the courthouse and the surrounding area. The firm presented its report to the Kalispell City Council in a work session on March 14.
The firm presented eight alternatives for the area. The alternatives include reducing Main Street to two lanes from Center Street to 13th Street; increasing the road around the courthouse couplet to two lanes on each side; keeping the couplet’s current configuration and making First Avenue East a one-way northbound street and First Avenue West a one-way southbound lane; making First Avenue East a one-way northbound lane and expanding Main street into a three-lane, one-way southbound street from Center Street to 13th Street; changing First Avenue West into a one-way southbound street and expanding Main Street into a three-lane, one-way northbound street from Center Street to 12th Street; and updating Willow Glen Drive for expanded traffic from U.S. 93 to Montana 35.
The Montana Department of Transportation will accept feedback on the analysis in the future and hold public informational meetings and develop a new website with information about the alternatives.
State officials in the past have proposed widening the road around the courthouse to four lanes — two lanes on each side of the courthouse — while county officials have asked for the highway to be reshaped to one side. City officials have expressed concerns that widening the highway to four lanes would only continue to flow large amounts of traffic into downtown and hamper any efforts to transform Main Street into a calmer, more attractive city center.
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