Saturday, April 01, 2023

Thoughts on Interlocal

by Larry Wilson
| February 15, 2023 2:00 AM

Another Winter Interlocal is in the books, two of my predictions were correct and one was entirely wrong. As expected, the Inside Road in Glacier Park is still undecided. I think the Park plan to keep the inside road for bikers, hikers and horsebackers will become the permanent status with the road kept available for fire suppression as needed. I continue to be an advocate for limited public use by vehicles. Even a one month period for one way traffic would satisfy me and would virtually eliminate its use as an ATV racetrack. I hope a final decision will be made in the next five to ten years.

Also, as expected the River Plan is up in the air. The $90,000 three year project ended with no plan. An extended contract of more thousands of dollars did the same. Now the whole thing is kicked down the road for at least another year. We will see what happens, hopefully in the next five to ten years.

I did receive one big surprise. An Alaskan construction firm has been awarded a $5.3 million contract for the FLAP grant. Work will include upgrading the road from the Polebridge Mercantile to Glacier Park’s Polebridge entrance.

This will virtually be a paved road using remixed asphalt from the Going-to-the-Sun highway upgrade.

Biggest part of the job will be a major rebuild of the North Fork Road from the Border 5.3 miles south overall. The project will be somewhat smaller than originally proposed. The road will not be rebuilt down to the junction with the Trail Creek Road and I did not hear anything about the slump near the Ray Hart residence.

I have never been a big fan of this upgrade which encourages more traffic without providing more infrastructure for recreationalists. For years I have complained about fewer campgrounds, both on the Flathead National Forest and in Glacier Park so why improve the roads? Information from a Park employee at the Interlocal weakens my argument.

He said that I was correct in noting there are fewer campgrounds. However, there are more campsites. Bowman Lake has added more campsites than were closed at Bowman Creek and Riverside camps. I am sure he is right and I apologize for not having all of the facts. Even so, we must plan for more recreational infrastructure as we experience more tourists every year. I think that will include even more campsites, trails and a realistic River Plan.

What do you think?

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