Remember the names: Council members Jerry Ballas, Myrt Charney, Clayton Floyd, Anne Kazmierczak, Bob Lovegrove, Don Nicholson and Jack Reidy cast votes Monday night that may cost taxpayers $140,000 and three years of work. Despite a study that showed a modification of West Broadway to three-lanes would increase pedestrian safety and retain traffic capacity, and despite the fact that the project was approved by City Council last fall, a new City Council voted 7–5 to kill the Road Diet project. Ward 5’s Bob Lovegrove asked why five lanes weren’t considered. Because the road was never too small for the cars that travel it, answered City Engineer Steve King. The problem was—and still is—safe crossings. Why not a traffic signal instead? asked, well, just about everybody. Because you end up with more rear-end accidents on that type of corridor, according to the state’s analysis. Plus, if you really want a light, you can add one later, says King. Grasping at straws, or so it seemed, Lovegrove asked (more than once) whether the reconfiguration could really accommodate future growth. Yep—the study included a projection of vehicular growth through 2022, and the reconfiguration is expected to work fine and dandy. Good thing that we pay for studies and expert analyses. Concerned citizen Vern Bailey, who crosses West Broadway in a wheelchair, asks, “How many more people must die or get hurt to address this deadly situation?” It’s not a rhetorical question anymore. We’ll start the tally at four. Former Council member Jim McGrath, pointing out the number of people creamed while crossing, asked, “What are you waiting for?” Evidence of airborne porcine matter, it appears. We hear Missoula used to be a progressive little city, but now, it just ain’t so. We barely squeaked by on a vote to put a bid in for our own power. Now this? Never you mind the state of the city’s credibility with the Montana Department of Transportation. We complain. We pay for a study with state and federal money. We reject the results—and have to pay back the money. This from some Council members who live and breath by the “fiscal responsibility” mantra. Janet Stevens, chief administrative officer, has a hunch that Mayor Kadas will veto the decision in an attempt to spare Missoulian’s from the hopefully temporary but definitely costly myopia of their Council members. If Kadas chooses to veto the Council’s vote, he’s got until Friday, June 11. To override a Kadas veto, Council would have to come up with an additional nay vote on Monday.
The Union Club, where Dems go to celebrate and commiserate during elections, was quieter this primary night than many remember in years past. At 8:49 p.m., bar time, 15 people sat at the bar and three people huddled around a table in back. A woman from Community Action for Justice in the Americas spoke to half a dozen about Montana’s trade relationship to Central America. Then, Brian Schweitzer, shiny and smiling, mouthed words from the silent televisions. Later on in the evening, the crowd, which had grown to about 100, cheered, eyes on the tube, but it was only for the Los Angeles Lakers, or maybe the Detroit Pistons. “It was sort of an average turnout,” admitted Democratic Senator Carolyn Squires, who attributed the thin attendance to a lack of contested local legislative races (and, perhaps, to the absence of the traditional primary chili-feed). Brian Schweitzer will race for the governor’s seat against Bob Brown, current Secretary of State, and the Lakers, having evened the series at one game apiece, will continue to vie with the Pistons for the NBA championship.