The City of Whitefish is in the early stages of moving forward with improvements to Karrow Avenue as part of the city’s next Resort Tax Roadway Project.
The expectation is that the Karrow project will result in road, storm sewer and pedestrian improvements over a span of about 2,000 feet stretching from West Second Street to West Seventh Street. The city’s transportation plan describes the project as responding to a need for improved north-south connectivity to the west of Highway 93, and the reconstruction of Karrow will result in a three-lane minor arterial road.
Road reconstruction projects on Edgewood Place and Texas Avenue are nearing completion, according to Public Works Director Craig Workman. Previously the city had planned to next move forward with improvements to Armory Road based on past practice of selecting priority projects in geographical order, but city staff were directed by the council to review the Karrow Avenue project in the context of recent transportation and growth trends.
To help evaluate the Karrow and Armory projects, Workman arranged for traffic counts to be taken on Armory and Karrow in August. According to those traffic counts, the average number of weekday trips on Karrow was 35% higher than on Armory, and weekend trips were roughly 138% higher than on Armory. The Resort Tax Monitoring Committee has since recommend Karrow Avenue as the next resort tax roadway project “based on heavy vehicular traffic volume, unsuitable roadway conditions, and the need for a bike/ped connection between W. 2nd Street and W. 7th Street,” according to a staff report presented at the council meeting.
During a brief presentation Workman explained to the council that the city does not currently have the project budgeted for this fiscal year, but that it’s estimated to cost $2.3 million, and that the city has $3 million budgeted in resort tax funds.
“The thought would be finish up with Texas Avenue, we’ll see what we have left in the resort tax budget for fiscal year ’23, and hopefully we can at least proceed with surveying preliminary engineering and begin the community outreach on this project,” Workman said.
At its Nov. 7 meeting, the council voted unanimously to move forward next with the Karrow project, and to appoint Karin Hilding, a senior project engineer for the city, and Workman, to a rating panel to review consultant proposals. The council also voted unanimously in favor of appointing Hilding, Workman and Councilor Steve Qunell to a selection panel to choose an engineering firm to design the project. A consulting engineer selected will also be responsible for surveying, engineering, public relations and construction.
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