November 20, 2018

Missoula County Commissioner’s Meeting Notes

Commissioners present: Dave Strohmaeir, Cola Rowley, Jean Curtiss
PW Present: Erik Dickson

MBA Representatives: P. Morrison, S. Sterbis, A. Rupkalvis, R. Schweitzer & others
CSC Representatives: D. St.Peter, Christen Anderson, D. Schmidt & others

South Avenue Bridge Report

This was the ninth item on the agenda, but BCC moved through the first eight in about 12 minutes. The rest of the hour was spent on this report.

  • 1. Erik Dickson reported that HDR had “finalized” the draft environmental document about 1 month ago on the MDT required CE form.
  • 2. He said MDT wants to see another resolution from commissioners to continue moving forward with the CE.
    • A. Commission Chair, Strohmaier questioned this as another step in an already questionable process. He again questioned the CE process, to which Dickson replied that the CE was requested by MDT. Strohmaeir argued with that interpretation saying that his understanding was that this was agreed upon by FHWA, MDT, and Public Works. He further said it was contrary to his understanding of the NEPA process and the payback clause in the PSA has created considerable confusion.
    • B. Curtiss chimed in to say that the county and MDT had properly conducted the steps, according to MDT approval.
    • C. Strohmaeir stated that Missoula County will be a signatory on the approved document but before that, the county and HDR will be held to another public meeting in Target Range. Commissioner Rowley supported Strohmaeir’s assessment.
  • 3. Schweitzer spoke to the deficiency of the process stating that MBA was a recognized consultant on the Section 106 process within NEPA. As such, we would be provided with a copy of the draft environmental document and given 30 days within which to review and respond. As of this date, we have received no documents for review. I was asked who would be sending the documents to us, to which I replied that I didn’t know. Strohmaeir suggested we look to FHWA for those draft documents.
  • 4. St.Peter spoke on behalf of the Common Sense Coalition saying they have endured 2 decades of this process under FHWA, and MDT. Each time the process has arrived at the same conclusions and anyone opposed was simply trying to block the process. He further derided Commissioner Strohmaeir for not reading the report that is apparently in the HDR website.
  • 5. C. Anderson spoke, saying she had proof that payback by the county is required if they do not follow through with the PSA agreement. Strohmaeir asked that she forward her proof to him. It turned out to be a copy of the PSA document.
  • 6. The Commissioners Strohmaier and Rowley agreed that the process and final authority is exceedingly unclear. Dave S. suggested that HDR be requested to create a timeline for the BCC that shows decision points in the process and just who has final authority. The BCC also wants clarity on the point at which the County can back out of the process without having to pay back the money that has already been spent.
  • 7. The BCC was queried about what was to be done about the inadequate infrastructure at the western end of South Ave. Commissioner Rowley said that is outside the parameters of this project. Commissioner Curtiss added that the bridge won’t be built until 2024 so there’s plenty of time to work on the roads.
  • 8. The meeting adjourned.