Archive for March 19th, 2008

by jhwygirl

The Federal Highway Administration is seeking comments on its FEIS for its Preferred Alternative for road improvements for Miller Creek.

After years of meetings and engineering studies and statistics, the Preferred Alternative is what is there now -with some widened lanes. How many millions did they spend to come to that conclusion?

There’s all kinds of things to sort through that link above – even a nice map that shows 3 other alternatives, all three of which included a bridge over the Bitterroot which would provide an alternative route connection to Highway 93.

There’s also a 2-page document summary explaining why the Fed’s Preferred Alternative was selected. It really is just maintenance of the current situation – that being one entrance into and out of one of the fastest growing areas in Missoula County:

The Miller Creek area is situated in one of the fastest growing areas in Missoula County. Population growth is expected to continue into the future, and current development plans would result in approximately 3,000 dwelling units by 2025, thereby affecting the capacity, mobility, and safety of project area roads, including US 93 and Miller Creek Road. The existing primary roadway access to and from the project area is at capacity and traffic volumes are expected to increase over the next 20 years with expected full buildout of the Miller Creek area.

20 years? They expect to maintain safe access with all of the projected growth with one access point? Growth of which, to note, all people far and wide have grossly underestimated here in Montana. I mean – talk to any old timer and see if they thought Missoula would be booming out in Frenchtown and Lolo and whether Ravalli County would be what it is. Or Belgrade or Kalispell.

Wasn’t that the same story Missoulian’s heard with the new construction of Reserve Street? That it would last for 20 years?

And wasn’t Reserve Street from Mullan to Brooks outdated almost immediately after construction? Unable to handle the traffic loads? It can take 40 minutes to get from 3rd & Reserve to Mullan & Reserve nowadays. What is that? 2 miles?

Normally I’m not an advocate for bigger roads – but the situation that is there already there and coming (with preliminary approvals already in place) can’t be mitigated away.

I see this as a disaster waiting to happen. There is a huge amount of development up Miller Creek already – and significantly more to come. One way in, one way out. Backed up to huge amounts of timbered land. One fire station. How can the Feds choose the one alternative as Preferred that leaves the greatest risk out there for such a huge number of people?

Comments are being taken until April 14th. Comments should be mailed to:
Mr. Craig Genzlinger, P.E., Federal Highway Administration, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601

You can also email Mr. Genzlinger at

by Pete Talbot

I’m pissed

Anybody else out there NOT get tickets to Clinton and Obama in Butte? I went online at 9 a.m. this morning with two laptops and never did get through. I had better luck scoring tickets to the Rolling Stones when they played Missoula.

I missed my chance to get tickets to the Mansfield-Metcalf dinner when I learned last month that the event had already sold out. (Note to Democratic Party headquarters in Helena: the one “save-the-date” email I received in January isn’t the best way to market an event to folks like me.)

So I was left with the only other option available — go online and try to get bleacher tickets. They were sold out by 9:30 9:04 9:40 9:15 a.m. I have to wonder if tickets are going to start showing up on eBay, and for how much.

I’ve only missed one Mansfield-Metcalf dinner in the last decade. Back when the Democrats were in the minority in both the state house and senate, and we had a Republican governor, attendance at this yearly Democratic event could be pretty paltry. I know “it’s a new day” in Montana but please don’t forget regular folks who supported the party during the lean times. Give us a better than average shot at the big-time gigs when they come around.

Now I know how rank-and-file Republicans must have felt when they were excluded from the caucuses last month.

It appears that a few other bloggers had similar online experiences. Maybe I should take Shane’s advice, though, and not blog when I’m angry.

Max gets jobs for Montanans Virginians

I’ll probably never work in this town again, at least in political TV production, but I can’t keep quiet any longer.

Sen. Baucus rolled out his first radio and TV spots last week, spending some of his $9 million war chest. According to Lee State Bureau’s Chuck Johnson:

“The television spots, produced by GMMB Creative, a Virginia firm, will run for several weeks.”

I saw one of the spots and it wasn’t bad. The sort of cookie-cutter commercials that DC beltway consulting firms are known for, with a standard feel good message and high production values.

Thing is, I know at least four producer/directors in Montana that could have done the same quality commercial, and for less money.

And one has to wonder who purchased the TV time for the spots, another Virginia media firm? The commissions generated for that firm would have kept a Montana advertising agency afloat for at least a year.

(Note to Gov. Schweitzer: I received a fund raising call for your campaign from a telemarketer in California. Surely there’s a firm in Montana that can do that.)

And I’m going to stay on top of this. The next candidate who says they’re for jobs for Montanans and then spends their money on out-of-state production companies, ad agencies, printers, pollsters, etc., will receive some special attention.

Happy Birthday, Congressman

On a more upbeat note, Pat Williams’ 70th birthday bash on Sunday was quite the gala affair. One might consider it a warm up to next month’s Mansfield-Metcalf dinner in Butte. Granted, Barack and Hillary weren’t there, but they should have been because every almost every Democratic leader in Missoula was in attendance, and a lot of out-of-town Democrats, too. (Note to presidential campaign coordinators: there are more registered Democrats in Missoula County than any other county in the state.)

Here are just some of the folks I spotted there: Mike McGrath, candidate for Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court; Jim Hunt, who’s challenging Congressman Denny Rehberg; and Democrat candidates for Montana Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Secretary of State.

Pat served for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first 14 years as Montana’s Western District Congressman and the last four years At Large (the entire state), and he served honorably. Unlike some of our other elected representatives and senators, he didn’t stay in D.C. and become a lobbyist upon retiring. He returned to Western Montana where he continues to work on policy for Rocky Mountain states. His wife, Carol, is majority leader in the Montana Senate.

Pasties were served to about 300 people and around $20,000 was raised for Democratic legislative candidates.

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