The Flathead County Commission voted unanimously to give the Gateway to Glacier Trail funding to build a pedestrian path between Coram and West Glacier.
The project was the top choice for the commission out of four total projects vying for money from the county’s share of the Community Transportation Enhancement Program, which uses federal highway tax dollars to develop non-motorized transportation access for the public.
The Gateway to Glacier Trail will receive $871,745 in CTEP funds, which will pay for the estimated engineering, design and construction costs. The trail consists of approximately 6.8 miles of separated pathway in two segments that will run along U.S. Highway 2.
In its decision to support the project, the commission was also told that the trail would be dedicated to former Commissioner Jim Dupont, who passed away in March.
In order to use the CTEP funds, a local match must be made by the nonprofit group supporting the project. The match is 13.42 percent, which should end up being about $117,000. According to the Flathead County Planning and Zoning Department, the local sponsor group has already raised half of the match, with $58,450 gathered through active fundraising.
According to Alex Hogle of the planning department, the start of construction is about three years off. The next step, now that the project has consent from the county commission, is to draft a formal CTEP application to the Montana Department of Transportation, which should then kick off a series of events leading to MDT programming the federal funds for the project.
Then, after a cursory environmental and historical check, the county can issue a request for designs, which need to be approved by the county and the state before construction can begin.
The group behind the trail has said its addition to the highway system will give pedestrians and cyclists a safer, better route to West Glacier. It will also run in front of all the campgrounds and businesses situated along the highway, which could help tourists reach the businesses with more ease.
For more information, visit www.gatewaytoglaciertrail.com.
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