Missoula refused federal transportation funding for Mullan’s work; other state projects granted

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Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

An effort by the city and county of Missoula to secure federal funding through a grant application to pay for non-motorized projects in the greater Mullan area was unsuccessful, the county said Thursday.

It is not yet known why the request was not approved, although it is likely that the two governments will continue to seek federal funds to complete the work. The funding instead went to four other projects in Montana, all rural, including a gravel road.

“The city has failed in its grant application for the (Mullan) grant area,” Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said. “We’ll have to regroup on that.”

In March, the city announced plans to apply for federal funding through a new round of grant applications under the RAISE program to complete multi-model transportation work in the greater Mullan area.

This included plans to create footpaths and bike lanes in conjunction with the other infrastructure work underway in the rapidly growing area west of Reserve Street. The city felt its plans for the project fit well with the funding criteria for the RAISE grant, given the multi-model aspect of the work.

City officials were not immediately available for comment.

According to the US Department of Transportation, four projects in Montana received $41 million from the RAISE grant. Projects included a road and sidewalks in Columbia Falls, a planning project on the Rocky Boy Reservation, roadwork in Lake County, and a gravel road project planned by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

The Department of Transport said the projects were assessed against several criteria, including safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, mobility and connectivity, among others.

“We have no shortage of projects to submit grant applications for,” said Shane Stack, director of public works for Missoula County.

While unfunded work in the Mullan area remains an issue for transportation planners, other projects funded by a 2019 federal grant guaranteed by Missoula are moving forward.

As part of that work, the county on Thursday approved an addendum to the contract with DJ&A to cover the need for additional testing. The work will be subcontracted to CMG from Kalispell for an amount of $8,800.

“As construction is complete on the project, we need to come in and test the materials, the density, the gradation of the gravel,” Stack said. “There are a lot of material tests going on. We want to make sure that these test procedures and test materials are accurate. There is a certain amount of testing for testing.

In Montana, the following projects will benefit from the RAISE awards:

Columbia Falls Gateway to Glacier Safety and Mobility Improvement Project – The City of Columbia Falls will receive $10 million to fund the reconstruction of approximately 1.3 miles of roadway, approximately 1.7 miles of new sidewalks and nearly a mile of buffered multi-use trails, numerous intersections, improvements parking and ADA access in the downtown Columbia Falls area.

Project improvements will help provide safer and more accessible transportation corridors, resulting in reduced emissions. The project will benefit the community, including the elderly, people with disabilities and school-aged children. The project will also promote energy efficiency through the replacement of aging and leaking water pipes.

Chippewa Cree Tribe Highway 6 Planning Grant – The Chippewa Cree Tribe will receive $2.1 million for this planning project which will fund a corridor planning study to assess Route 6 of the ZAC on the Rocky Boy Reserve.

The project aims to improve safety and reduce the likelihood of accidents and vehicle slides by improving the condition of the current asphalt, which has significant deterioration of the surface and subsoil.

The project sponsor will work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) system, which governs all relevant tribal planning and responsibilities for all roads on the reservation, among other partners.

Lake County Road Reconstruction – Lake County will receive $12.9 million to reconstruct and pave Dublin Gulch and North Reservoir Roads in their entirety, as well as approximately 1.3 miles of Lower Moise Valley Road. This project will improve environmental sustainability by improving the quality of ground and surface water used for irrigation.

The project also offers the possibility of installing solar supports to connect to nearby solar installations. The project will facilitate emergency response and provide more reliable and timely access to jobs and essential services. The creation of a bike path will improve mobility and connectivity by linking US93 and MT564 with a bike path between communities.

Northern Cheyenne Rosebud Cut-Across US 212 to MT 39 – The Northern Cheyenne Tribe will receive $15.8 million to rebuild approximately 3.1 miles of existing gravel road on the Rosebud Cut-Across to include a two-lane paved road with two-foot shoulders, upgrades geometric features, safety upgrades, improved signage and a separate multimodal cycle and pedestrian path.

The project will improve safe transportation infrastructure for travelers between communities on the reserve and provide better access to emergency response vehicles. The project will improve overall air quality for communities and address the negative environmental impacts of transportation by reducing vehicle congestion during seasonal and accident-related shutdowns. The project will increase affordable transportation choices and help modernize basic infrastructure in the region.

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