The Sam Bibler Commemorative Trail took a significant step forward on Monday after Flathead County awarded the project to Apex Contracting Inc. and signed an agreement to help the City of Kalispell fund its portion of the trail.
Apex Contracting, a local firm, bid $447,814 for both of the county’s sections of the trail, the lowest out of the six companies to turn in offers. The trail is designed to follow Willow Glen Drive from FFA Drive to Woodland Avenue.
The first section of the project runs from FFA Drive north to Woodland Avenue, and the second section navigates roughly 700 linear feet of the hill and would tie into Kalispell’s Woodland Connector Trail.
The county’s decision on Apex Contracting comes with a backing from the Montana Department of Transportation and the county’s consulting engineers from Robert Peccia and Associates.
There was discussion about the contracting firm’s lack of experience with projects funded by Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP) money, and the commissioners decided to increase the consulting engineer’s oversight from three hours a day to eight hours a day to ensure all appropriate protocols are followed.
The increase comes at an additional cost of roughly $13,000, but the commission noted Apex Contracting’s bid is still nearly $30,000 lower than the next bid even with the extra cost.
CTEP funds are distributed by the state to develop non-motorized transportation access for the public. The money comes from federal highway tax dollars and requires a local match. In this case, the local group behind the Bibler Trail project is responsible for the match.
The commissioners also agreed to transfer $118,000 of its share of CTEP funds to the City of Kalispell to help the city complete its share of the Woodland Connector Trail.
Kalispell City Manager Jane Howington requested the money in April. She wrote it would take the city two years to raise $118,000 in CTEP funds, which could delay the project.
As part of a memorandum of understanding between the city and county, Kalispell will pay the county back by applying $118,000 in its CTEP funds toward the segment of a proposed shared trail network along Conrad Drive, from Woodland Park to Willow Glen Drive, within five years.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the city and county to work together,” Commissioner Dale Lauman said.
According to county planner Alex Hogle, construction on the trail could begin within the next few weeks.
The Bibler Trail project was proposed to commemorate longtime Kalispell resident and benefactor Louis A. “Sam” Bibler.
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