Missoula, Montana

Activating Missoula’s Russell Street for Pedestrian Mobility

Location: Missoula, Montana
Completed Date: Winter 2014
Lead Consultant: Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.)
Partner: Missoula Redevelopment Agency and City of Missoula


Russell Street is an auto-oriented corridor slated for reconstruction. How land develops in the corridor as Missoula grows will play a central role in determining future walkability.

Russell Street is one of Missoula’s primary corridors, cutting through the center of the city and providing one of only five bridge crossings over the Clark Fork River. The corridor serves as an important connection between neighborhoods in the center of Missoula, the Downtown, and the commercial districts in the southern half of the city. Despite the centrality of the Russell Street corridor, its infrastructure has long been in need of investments to enhance its safety and character. The City recently underwent an intensive planning process alongside the Missoula Department of Transportation to plan for the streetscape’s transformation into a more bikeable and walkable corridor. The next step needed was to create a plan for the land uses along the corridor so that Russell Street could ultimately redevelop into the vibrant neighborhood the community is hoping it will become someday.

Russell Street is built principally for the automobile.

Key Activities

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency and the City of Missoula sought recommendations to their zoning code and tax increment financing standards for the revitalization of Russell Street. To that end, New Mobility West hired Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.) to diagnose the current zoning code and lead a public design charrette. In October 2014, P.U.M.A. and NMW staff spent three days in Missoula for an intensive immersion and problem solving effort. In order to better understand the market conditions that are likely to drive redevelopment of Russell Street within the study area, P.U.M.A. conducted research on demographics and the retail market. Based on analysis of the market, demographic, and income data, and observed conditions during our site visit, P.U.M.A. identified key opportunities within the Russell Street study area that are favored by market conditions.


Comparing the community vision for the corridor, existing regulations, and the market opportunities in the current investment cycle, P.U.M.A. developed a range of recommendations for regulatory revisions and non-regulatory approaches. They included design standards encouraging pedestrian friendly buildings along Russell Street, identified as paramount to achieving the character the community expects and that appropriately complements the public investment in the street reconfiguration.

Some key recommendations:

  • Include street-facing entrances on new development to encourage pedestrian circulation from Russell Street into business establishments.
  • Update the development code to include pedestrian friendly facade treatments, such as the addition of windows, outdoor seating, public art, pedestrian scale lighting and building modulations.
  • Create incentives, which could be managed through the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, to spur pedestrian friendly development, such as fee waivers, expedited permitting, financing assistance, and cross-access easements.


Read the final report



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