Valley Journal
Valley Journal

City, county discuss options for $12 million TIGER grant at informational meeting

POLSON — About 40 people attended the first of many public meetings on the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery or TIGER Grant held on March 30 at 6:30 p.m. in Linderman gym. 

Lake County Commissioners Paddy Trusler and Bill Barron and Polson City Manager Todd Crossett presented information on the $12 million grant. The grant is a partnership including Lake County, the City of Polson, the City of Ronan, the Town of St. Ignatius, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Lake County Community Development.

The original grant application was for $16 million so receiving $12 million meant the project had to be downsized. Trusler said the group is still focusing on the total rebuild of Skyline Drive for approximately $9 million. Some of the other projects considered for the remaining $3 million are: one mile of pedestrian/bike path from the end of Caffrey Road to Highway 93, a two-mile extension from the end of the walking path on Round Butte Road to connect with Back Road, Main Street in Ronan and chip sealing Carbine Road or Pablo West into Pablo, approximately four miles. 

“Connectivity is always a key,” Trusler said.

Barron said three very important dates for the TIGER grant are May 2010 when the contract with FHWA should be signed. The design should be complete and ready to bid by September of 2011 and construction should be complete by Sept. 16, 2016. 

Barron said, “We hope to be building by the end of 2012.”

Although the websites are not up yet, Barron said residents and interested folks could go to the Lake County or City of Polson websites, pull up TIGER grant and see what’s happening. (See the websites at www.lakecounty-mt.org and www.cityofpolson.com)

Although Skyline Drive is a Lake County road, Crossett said part of the deal is that the City of Polson will take over maintenance of Skyline after the construction. The project will go from 17th Ave. E. to Caffrey and will include the road, retaining walls, guardrails and an adjacent pathway. Crossett said there wouldn’t be any dirt moving until 2012, and public involvement and comments will be solicited. Crossett said they’d try to complete the project without purchasing right of way. Crossett also discussed issues such as getting into and out of houses during construction, storm water, moving utilities such as water and sewer, tree retention and safety. 

We’re going to “make this (Skyline Project) as safe as we possibly can,” Crossett said.

Public comments and questions included: questions about whether or not tribal members would be working on the project, tribal involvement in the project, a resident of Skyline Drive who is not in favor of the walking path right by her house, how the other projects will be chosen, a complaint about new construction on Skyline when Polson streets are so bad, whether or not the speed limit will stay the same after construction is completed, speed bumps or dips to control speed and whether or not a traffic light has been considered at Mission View and Skyline. 

 “Just because the grant is awarded doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole bunch of stuff to be done,” Trusler said.

 To get that stuff done, Trusler will serve as the general program manager, dealing with contract management, budget management, engineering, design and construction. Barron will handle public liaison with weekly meetings set up so all issues can be discussed.

Billie Lee from Lake County Community Development will handle contract administration.

The project manager for the City of Polson will be Ron Melvin.

All these people’s numbers will be posted on the websites so members of the public can contact them, and public input is solicited. 

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