Friday, August 21, 2015

South Helena Gateway Project: A New Trail, Accessible Park (and dog park), and Safer Intersection Downtown Using Existing Pavement and Irrigated Grass!


The following design concept is a cost effective way to utilize excess public right-of-way that was once intended to be part of a highway bypass that would have crossed Helena at the base of Mount Ascension, Mount Helena and along La Grande Cannon Boulevard. 

The south lane of Cruse can be closed to traffic allowing for a safe, accessible bike and pedestrian way all the way from Park/West Main through to currently dangerous State & Cruse intersection. The northern lane of Cruse and one of the lanes for the State and Cruse Intersection, would become two-way streets as indicated by the black arrows on the illustration below. Such improvements would immediately make the southern entrance of Helena safer and effectively create a safe, accessible park on grounds already irrigated, mowed and otherwise maintained by the City. This should include an accessible dog park, a parking area for users of Helena's trails, and continue to host a drop-off recycling site. 

This project would be an ideal use of "urban funds," federal highway funds for the greater Helena area. The allocation of urban funds will be before the Transportation Coordination Committee (TCC) the second week of September 2015. Given cost constraints and Helena's substantial backlog of infrastructure needs ranging from failed streets to incomplete sidewalks, projects that can make creative, effective use of public space, existing pavement, and improve safety are more important than ever. Further, not all persons with dogs can easily use Helena's trail system or access Helena's current dog park. A dog park in this location would help offset trailhead only use of Helena's Open Lands and, most importantly, provide benefit to Helena residents and their best friends. 

This South Helena Gateway project is a smart investment for safety and quality of life in Helena. Please let your Mayor and Commissioners know if you support this project. 

As always, please contact me with any questions and ideas for Helena. 

Thank you very much!


Matt E

Matthew Elsaesser, Commissioner
City of Helena, Montana, USA

Design concept by the City of Helena's non-motorized transportation engineer. 

Another cost saving and green concept for some of Helena's streets that better uses Helena's right-of-ways and can better address infrastructure needs outlined here:

Combining a limited parking lane with an alternative boulevard concept can allow for affordable, accessible sidewalks on Helena's older streets without boulevards without tearing up driveways and existing landscaping at great expense.