Development Trumps Public Safety in Kalispell

The primary function of government is to protect its citizens

By William Etter

Traffic on West Evergreen Drive was cited as one of the paramount concerns for the decision to scrap the Evergreen mobile-home park. Another development on West Reserve was turned down because the road was insufficient and unsafe for anticipated traffic. Compare these decisions to the City of Kalispell’s plan to allow perhaps 600 to 800 additional vehicles access onto Two Mile Drive, in two different developments, a high-density apartment complex near Hawthorne and a large single-family development near Two Mile and West Springcreek.

At a recent planning board meeting focusing on the high-density apartment project on Two Mile Drive, pedestrian safety was brought up. The response was that the developer would be responsible for sidewalks only along roadways immediately adjacent to the apartments. This same response was made at another presentation regarding the housing development at West Springcreek. Just because the developer cannot be made responsible for safety provisions does not mean that they are unnecessary.

The infrastructure is not in place to permit this development yet our representatives just plow ahead with little regard for the potential hazards to pedestrians and bicyclists as well as others who regularly use Two Mile Drive. If this development goes forward, sections of Two Mile Drive, already narrow, will have just a couple of intermittent sidewalks, with the huge majority left with no shoulder and drainage ditches on either side. At one presentation, the city representative, when asked about pedestrian safety stated that they only did traffic studies, not pedestrian studies.

I regularly see walkers, joggers, and youngsters on bicycles using Two Mile Drive. I’ve watched a runner have to step off into the steep ditch when neither eastbound or westbound cars would yield space.

Do we wait for a tragedy before we do the right thing? Are our elected officials, planners and planning board members without conscience?

Either put the upgrades and necessary infrastructure in place or don’t approve the projects.

The primary function of government is to protect its citizens. I say to our elected officials: “This is your responsibility. Do you duty.”

William Etter

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