Greening America’s Capitals

Greening America’s Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green building and green infrastructure strategies.  This program assists three to five communities per year.

Helena was selected for the Greening America’s Capitals program in 2012 along with:

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Indianapolis, Indiana 

Creating a Common Vision

Greening America’s Capitals helped the city and community stakeholders create a common vision for designing intersection improvements to improve traffic flow, create safer crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve the connection to downtown.

The project looked at the one-way/two-way question plus the challenges of a five-point intersection along Last Chance Gulch.

Focus Groups

Focus groups helped identify preliminary design concepts and implementation strategies for presentation at the second open house.

These focus groups included:

  • Business and Economic Development;
  • Green Infrastructure and Landscape;
  • Multi-modal Transportation and Circulation;
  • Historic Preservation, Public Art and Culture;
  • Social Services/Public Health; and
  • Implementation Strategies.

Open Houses

The City of Helena hosted public open houses on February 25 and 27 to present potential design concepts for the portion of Last Chance Gulch around the 5-way intersection of Last Chance Gulch/ Neill Avenue/11th Avenue, and the Last Chance Gulch/6th Avenue intersection.  Some of the first design concepts were revised for the second open house.

Power Point Presentations  (Large Files)

Feb. 25, 2013 Open House

Feb. 27, 2013 Open House

Implementation Concepts

What spurred the most interest and excitement:

  • Improving the crossing of Neill at Front Street and connecting through alley along Women’s Park to historic core
  • Expanding the mall into 6th and Last Chance Gulch Intersection
  • Slowing speeds in the downtown
  • Incremental and opportunistic implementation:
  • Striping and sharrows on South Last Chance Gulch
  • Infrastructure project programmed for Front Street
  • Look for other public and private projects that can help implement the Sustainable Street Network