Kalispell Council Passes Transportation Plan

By Beacon Staff

An update to the 2006 Kalispell Area Transportation Plan passed unanimously Monday night, outlining most of the major road construction to take place in Kalispell through 2030. The federal and state funding will pick up most of the tab, and are expected to pay over $100 million in infrastructure improvements. The city will pay roughly $17 million.

The transportation plan, a supplement to the city’s growth policy, was tabled for discussion March 17th under the recommendation it receive further study and deliberation.

Eric Hummel, an attorney for Wolford Development Montana, said the current transportation plan does not meet all the requirements to impose the one-time road impact fees. Road impact fees are one-time charges to pay for road improvements and expansion based upon the traffic a new building or annexed property is projected to create within the city. The council plans to vote separately on a road impact fee structure later this spring.

Executive Director of Citizens for a Better Flathead, Mayre Flowers, urged the council to move forward and accept the impact fees. “We need to make sure growth is paying for itself,” she said.

Whitefish City councilor Turner Askew, who has been a long standing proponent of introducing a Mustard Seed restaurant to Kalispell, petitioned the council not to accept impact fees, saying a 7,000 to 8,000 square foot restaurant would get hit with a fee upwards of $40,000 to $50,000.

Councilor Bob Hafferman supported the transportation plan, saying that it was a framework that could be changed and adapted to future limitations. Councilor Randy Kenyon proposed an amendment to the plan inserting the word “roundabout” before “traffic light” as a viable solution to potential traffic problems. The amendment passed 7-2.

“I don’t think the council has the expertise to go into design features that may or may not be roadblocks in the future,” Hafferman said.