Columbia Falls, Lake County Receive Infrastructure Grants

$23 million will be used to reconstruct roads, sidewalks and pathways; Kalispell grant application not approved

By Micah Drew
Nucleus Avenue and downtown Columbia Falls, Montana as seen on May 23, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The city of Columbia Falls received a $10 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity (RAISE) Grant from the Department of Transportation that will fund a series of reconstruction and improvement projects in the area. 

 Increased funding for RAISE Grants was a key component of the bipartisan infrastructure law negotiated by Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester last year. 

“As Columbia Falls continues to boom, it’s critical that the city has up to date infrastructure to support its rapid growth,” Jon Tester said in a press release. “Through my bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act we’ve been able to grow the RAISE program, and in turn help support our gateway communities like Columbia Falls. These investments will make it easier for folks to operate small businesses, get to work or school on time, and travel around some of Montana’s most sacred natural treasures.”

Columbia Falls’ grant puts $10,021,688 toward the Gateway to Glacier Safety and Mobility Improvement Project, which will reconstruct 1.3 miles of roadway, 1.7 miles of new sidewalks and one mile of multiuse pathways around town. The project will also reconstruct several intersections and improve parking and ADA accessibility in the city’s downtown center. 

Grant money will also be used to replace aging, leaking water mains in the city, promoting energy efficiency.  

Lake County was also a recipient of a $12,941,413 RAISE Grant that will be used to reconstruct and pave Dublin Gulch and North Reservoir roads in their entirety, as well as 1.3 miles of Lower Moise Valley Road. 

An application submitted by Kalispell city officials for $25 million to fund an improvement project for West Reserve Drive did not receive funding. 

The project would have cost $33 million with the Montana Department of Transportation as a funding partner. The proposed improvements included widening West Reserve Drive and Whitefish Stage Road and adding lanes to several intersections including at U.S. Highway 93, Whitefish Stage Road and U.S. Highway 2.