LAKESIDE—Nearly 50 Lakeside residents gathered on the cloudy morning of Dec. 2 to celebrate the opening of a new bridge and trail reaching from north of Stoner Loop over Stoner Creek to the gated exit of Apostolic Lutheran Church. The trail was completed this fall at a cost of $394,000, and opened to foot traffic and cyclists on Nov. 25.
In 2010, Flathead County inked a plan to administer a Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP), funded with federal tax dollars and managed through the Montana Department of Transportation. Officials invited communities to compete for funding, and Lakeside resident Debbie Spaulding saw an opportunity to improve her community. The regular commuter was worried about pedestrian traffic on the busy on the busy U.S. Highway 93 and Blacktail Road, which does not have a shoulder. She organized a group of residents, including members of the nonprofit Lakeside Community Development Foundation, to submit an application.
“This was a very dangerous area,” Lakeside resident Jennifer Drew said at the ribbon cutting. “The bridge is a feat in engineering. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s going to be a way safer, a real plus. It’s a first-class trail.”
The project was awarded a $300,000 grant, and, because the bridge was CTEP’s final project, later picked up some additional “crumbs” left over in the budget, Muffie Thomson, treasurer of the Lakeside Community Development Foundation, said.
Eighty-eight local donors contributing between $1 and $2,000 raised the matching 13.42 percent, and local businesses, including Sliter’s Lumber & Building Supply, Remedies Lakeside, Blacktail Grocery, Lakeside Town Center, Lakeside Town Center, and the West Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, raised an additional $7,500 to stretch the trail further north. The Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Round Up For Safety program, which donates funds from residents who round up their power bill, also contributed to this amount.
“It’s really nice to know everybody can come together,” Thomson said at the ribbon cutting.
The project’s first donors, Margaret and Will Baird, stretched the red ribbon across the bridge at the ceremony, while former county commissioner Dale Lauman and real estate broker David Fetveit cut through the ribbon.
“We love Lakeside, and anything we can do to help,” Margaret Baird said.
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