Friday, June 25, 2021

City will seek grant for bike and pedestrian path

Editor | May 26, 2021 6:45 AM

Columbia Falls will apply for a federal grant to put a bike/pedestrian path from Fourth Avenue West east to the city limits up Railroad Street. The project has an estimated price of about $1.15 million. Putting a bike path or a sidewalk on Railroad Street has been on city leaders’ radar for decades.

At last week’s council meeting, engineer C.R Leisinger went over the project with city council during a public hearing on the matter.

While it’s a federal grant, the monies for the program are expected to be competitive, as there’s three applications in the Flathead Valley alone and only about $5.5 million available statewide.

The maximum grant is $1 million —but the city has a local match of 13.42%.

Most of the path would be 8 feet wide, though it will narrow to a 5 foot wide sidewalk on the east end due to right-of-way issues, Leisinger noted. The city could use tax increment financing funds for its portion, city manager Susan Nicosia said.

If successful, the project would start in 2023.

In other news:

• The city continues to finalize its extension of services plan. The plan is about 20 years old and needed an update. Right now, the city is pretty much stuck in limbo. It’s rapidly infilling — and expansion of services is expensive or unwanted by developers at this point.

Developers east of the Flathead River are building subdivisions that are on private wells and septic tanks.

West of the city is still farmland, with no immediate plans of development. North of the city the railroad tracks pose a barrier to sewer and water lines. Drilling under them is expensive. However, a subdivision off Meadow Lake Drive north of the city is on tap for review in the coming weeks. The city already has sewer lines running up Meadow Lake Drive that serve Meadow Lake Resort.

“At this point, we’re hemmed in,” Mayor Don Barnhart noted.