Local residents have their first look at what Kalispell’s new downtown trail could look like. Last week, the City of Kalispell, Alta Planning and Design and KLJ Engineers revealed a rendering of the preliminary alignment of the proposed Kalispell Trail during the Northwest Montana Fair.
The proposed trail will replace the former Great Northern Railway line through downtown and connect Meridian Street with Woodland Park.
“The reaction to the trail design has been really enthusiastic,” Kalispell Planning Director Tom Jentz said. “People are really excited.”
The trail itself will be anywhere from 12 to 16 feet wide with 25 to 100 feet of green space in some spots. Amenities along the trail could include lighting, benches, trashcans, bathrooms and way-finding signs. Playgrounds, skate parks and a water pad are also options under consideration. Designers also want to pay tribute to the area’s industrial heritage and keep sections of railroad track to incorporate it into the path. There is also the possibility of acquiring an old railroad car or locomotive to put on display near downtown.
The owner of the tracks, BNSF Railway, has filed to abandon the rails through town, and trains will stop running into Kalispell once the new Glacier Rail Park is completed east of town off Whitefish Stage Road later this year.
In April, the Kalispell City Council selected Alta Planning and Design and KLJ Engineers to design and construct the new rail trail. Removal of the old railroad, engineering and construction of the new trail and the rebuilding of a cross-street — to be selected from a choice of three options — through the core area is expected to cost approximately $4 million.