Sunday, March 18, 2018

Columbus snares $800K TA grant to extend trails

Columbus is one step closer to having city-wide walking trails.
The city has received an $807,000 grant through the Montana Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program. Public Works Superintendent Dennis Holten announced the news at last week’s city council meeting.
Throughout the whole state, only Helena received more grant money through the TA Program this cycle.
The project total is approximately $932,000, with the TA funds covering 86.58 percent of the costs. The remaining 13.42 percent – approximately $125,000 – will be the city’s matching funds.
Stillwater county’s Economic Development Coordinator Marissa Hauge wrote the grant and sent the application in March.
She said that the city has to cover the entire amount of matching funds due to budgetary constraints. On a year without those constraints, an on-system project like Columbus’ would not require any local match.
City Clerk Kisha Miller said about $78,000 has already been saved in an account for the project. This leaves approximately $50,000 left for the city to save.
Holten praised Hauge’s hard work on the grant, saying she “deserves a lot of credit for (the county receiving the grant), as she put together a great application.”
Hauge said that the trails project shows how the city is committed to the Trails Plan.
“They allocate funds yearly for the betterment of the trails and their park and rec. budgets,” she said. “They have been wonderful supporters of the future of the Columbus Trails and should also be commended for the investment in our amazing community.”

The TA grant program is provided by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. TA grants are federal funds that are managed and distributed by the Montana Department of Transportation, Hauge explained.
The grant program supplies funds for “transportation alternatives” including recreational trail program projects such as the one proposed for Columbus.

The grant provides enough funds to complete three sections of trails around Columbus.
The first segment, known as the “Keyser Creek Loop Connenction” will connect the existing trails system near the cemetery to the downtown sidewalk system.

This segment would include extending the sidewalk until North Second Street, and from that point creating an asphalt foot path that would connect with the loop at Quarry Street.
The next segment – “Highway 78 Cooridor Path – South” – will connect downtown Columbus to Itch-Kep-Pe Park. The plan creates new sidewalk to connect existing sidewalk from the railroad crossing until the crosswalk by the Montana Silversmiths.
At the crosswalk, the sidewalk would move to the other side of the road and continue until East Third Avenue South. From this point, an asphalt path would stretch to Itch-Kep-Pe Park on the east edge of the highway right-of-way at the base of the highway slope.
The final segment, the “Highway 78 Corridor Path – North,” would stretch from Pike Avenue all the way to the Granite Peak Park complex.
Proposed sidewalks would connect with those existing from Diamond Street to north Ninth Street on Pike Avenue, and from Pike Avenue to East Fourth Avenue North along North Ninth Street.
An asphalt path would stretch from East Fourth Avenue North until the Granite Peak entrance, along the west side right-of-way of North Ninth Street.

Hague said the next step is to have the agreement reviewed by the state and the city, and then begin programming. The project will go out to bid in 2018, a process that could take a full year. Currently, construction is estimated to begin in 2019. As always, there is the potential for unforeseen circumstances to alter the project’s timeline.