$4.5M grant will build Missoula-to-Lolo bike trail along U.S. 93

2013-09-04T05:30:00Z 2014-04-28T20:41:11Z $4.5M grant will build Missoula-to-Lolo bike trail along U.S. 93 missoulian.com

A dream to make biking safer between Missoula and Lolo just won a $4.5 million grant to become a reality.

“We’re elated to think this trail is going to be completed in our biking lifetimes,” said Ethel MacDonald, who with Jean Belangie-Nye of Bike-Walk Alliance for Missoula helped organize support for the project. “I can hardly wait to get on my bike and ride it.“

The federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program awarded the money on Tuesday. It will be matched by a $400,000 contribution from the city of Missoula, $400,000 from Missoula County and $100,000 from the Montana Department of Transportation for a total budget of $5.48 million.

The eight-mile route will parallel U.S. Highway 93 between Missoula and Lolo, but with much more comfort for two-wheeled riders. Adventure Cycling executive director Jim Sayer said the path would solve a major problem.

“We laid out the 4,200-mile Trans-America route from Virginia to Oregon, and riders tell us regularly one of the worst parts is the eight miles from Lolo to Missoula on Highway 93,” Sayer said on Tuesday. “After being on quiet country roads most of the way across America, you come on this high-speed road with curves where you’re right between fog line and the barriers.”

The Trans-America route runs up the Bitterroot Valley to Lolo and then west along Highway 12 to Lolo Pass, but many cross-country cyclists detour north to visit Missoula. They may also be heading for the Lewis and Clark National Bike Route that leaves Missoula on Interstate 90 or the Great Parks National Bike Route that passes Glacier National Park to Jasper, Alberta.

The Lolo-Missoula connection would also build on the 38-mile Bitterroot Path between Lolo and Hamilton, as well as the extensive network of paths within Missoula itself.

Sayer said the grant application was remarkably competitive, with Missoula’s proposal up against 568 others requesting a total $9 billion in projects. The grant pool had just $516 million to distribute.

“A big driver was the economic feasibility of a project this size going through the terrain you experience between Missoula and Lolo,” said Chris Anderson, project manager for DJ&A Architects, which authored the grant proposal. “One criteria was we needed to find a trail alternative in existing public right-of-way. We didn’t want to go through acquisition for this project.”

The current proposal would send cyclists along the west side of Highway 93 from Missoula to Blue Mountain Road, where they would cross to the east side. A trail from there would follow the outside edge of the highway where it curves tight against hillsides above the Bitterroot River and railroad lines. Then it would connect with the Bitterroot Path at Ridgeway Drive in Lolo.

All this must go through environmental analysis and project bidding before any dirt can get shoveled. But that could happen as soon as the 2014 construction season.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(36) Comments

  1. zena
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    zena - September 14, 2013 4:51 pm
    Well said. But citizens must make their voices heard. Vote out our current council(not all of them) and our mayor, and lets bring back some common sense. If the Bike path proponents are that serious, then let them find the funds.
    WE CANNOT AFFORD THIS RIGHT NOW.

    Peggy Cain (aka Zena)
    Hoping to be mayor of Missoula
  2. goodneighbor
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    goodneighbor - September 10, 2013 12:26 pm
    or go take a drive through the oilfield at the other end of the state and see the conditions of the roads there
  3. F Moh
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    F Moh - September 10, 2013 6:59 am
    We are like juvenile shoppers with a limitless credit card. Oh sure - we grumble around the water cooler about how we need to cut spending. But as soon as something sparkling catches our eye we reach out our greedy little hands and grab it. "GIMMIE GIMMIE GIMMIE" Who cares what the cost is? Everybody's doing it? What's $4 MIL compared to the total deficit? PEANUTS!

    We know we have a spending problem - and we know how to solve it. Everybody has to sacrifice. And by "everybody" - I mean *YOU* (and me).

    Stop trying to justify the spending and start being part of the solution. Elect fiscally responsible representatives and don't let the whiney babies have access to the credit card.
  4. zena
    Report Abuse
    zena - September 05, 2013 10:48 pm
    Hate to tell you this, but I am a life long democrat. You should not assume. I am also running for mayor. What are you doing to help our community?

  5. GaryTinkSanders
    Report Abuse
    GaryTinkSanders - September 05, 2013 9:24 pm
    Hakon I wonder if the increase that MTModal is talking about comes from the pre-release off Mullan.
  6. Hakon Montag
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    Hakon Montag - September 05, 2013 8:54 am
    "The percentage of Americans who mostly used a bicycle to get to work increased by 47% between 2000 and 2011 (Cox, W. 2012). "

    Playing the 'stats card'

    So an increase of 50 people to 73 people got your number.
  7. Hakon Montag
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    Hakon Montag - September 05, 2013 8:52 am
    Facts are still facts.

    Investing in infrastructure for bikes...hasn't produced bikes.
  8. Hakon Montag
    Report Abuse
    Hakon Montag - September 05, 2013 8:48 am
    Left field today huh...
  9. observer
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    observer - September 05, 2013 7:34 am
    Our federal government refuses to help Yarnell, AZ with the deaths of 19 firefighters fighting fire on federal ground (which it has the right not to), but will dump millions into a bike path (which it also does not have to do). Every day gets stranger and stranger with liberals running the zoo.
  10. MtModal
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    MtModal - September 05, 2013 12:23 am
    When we invest in infrastructure for cars we get cars. When we invest in infrastructure for bikes we get bikes. The percentage of Americans who mostly used a bicycle to get to work increased by 47% between 2000 and 2011 (Cox, W. 2012). Public dialogue occurs as part of land use and transportation planning process. And I don't think Head Start qualifies for federal transportation funds (other than transporting kids to school).
  11. MtModal
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    MtModal - September 04, 2013 11:58 pm
    I wonder who pays for the Cato Institute and the Tea Party.
  12. zena
    Report Abuse
    zena - September 04, 2013 10:39 pm

    did you know only approximately 2% of citizens use there bike as primary transportation,
    How about building as we can afford, I love bikes, but groceries, housing, medicine, utilities trump a bike trail used by so few. A public dialogue would have been helpful. Is a bike trail to Lolo more important than head start? I do not pretend to be all knowing, but the citizens should have had a say in this.
    Dialogue before decision. My motto
    Peggy Cain, running for mayor
  13. zena
    Report Abuse
    zena - September 04, 2013 10:32 pm
    groceries and rent money help also, but with tax hikes like we have, many cannot afford the necessities
  14. zena
    Report Abuse
    zena - September 04, 2013 10:30 pm
    Please tell me you are being sarcastic!
  15. MtModal
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    MtModal - September 04, 2013 12:22 pm
    Congratulations on winning this highly competitive grant. This pathway is a bargain compared to a two-lane road (one lane, each direction), which costs about $2 million per mile - more if there's any bridges, underpasses, significant earthwork, or utility work. This pathway is one more piece in a transportation network that allows people options to move around without having to drive. This is good for our tourism economy, parents of Head Start kids, homeless folks, those worried about our health care costs, people who don't like congestion, just about everyone. Except maybe the oil and auto industry.
  16. dave ajou
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    dave ajou - September 04, 2013 12:07 pm
    How about breaking down the 7500.00 Jim ? The private ones. The city of Missoula doesn't count, neither does Missoula county. Here's the list you provided : City of Missoula, Missoula County, Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula (BWAM), Run Wild Missoula, Adventure Cycling Association, The Cycling House, Bitterroot Valley Bank, Farmers State Bank.
  17. dave ajou
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    dave ajou - September 04, 2013 11:57 am
    Thanks Jim for making sure everybody sees clearly. Did you really need to comment three times to make it appear that there was some kind of grassroots enthusiasm for the cost ? You would think patting yourself on the back in the original story would have been enough to stroke your ego.
  18. MiddleFinger
    Report Abuse
    MiddleFinger - September 04, 2013 11:45 am


    Given most of the comments below, Missoula does not deserve any positive infrastructure spending. So assuming all the naysayers are correct, then lets pack up all our money and send it to where it is really needed...Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, and of course Syria.

    Let's send some to sub-Saharan Africa as well, and the rest we can donate to homeless shelters in New York City, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. We already have too good here.

    Way to wet your own bed Missoula.

  19. Dubs
    Report Abuse
    Dubs - September 04, 2013 11:13 am
    You must live a very boring life to place this big spending spree as the most exciting thing to happen to you in a decade. Hard to believe there is that kind of money laying around to be thrown around on something used by a few.
  20. Rez Kid
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    Rez Kid - September 04, 2013 11:12 am
    That figures out to $685,000.00 per mile of Bike path. Are you kidding? It should cost much less than that, it's not a 2 lane hwy just a bike path a few feet wide. Why the high cost, are they putting lights along the way?? How about a bike tax??
  21. zena
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    zena - September 04, 2013 10:31 am
    The bike path may be a great idea, but the cold hard fact is we cannot afford it right now. Why should Missoula city tax payers pay for a bike path to Lolo. If I wanted a new Rolls Royce, I could not just go buy one, I cannot afford it!

    As a retired nurse, I think Missoula has a serve case of budgetitis. They just cannot stop spending on fluff. Help me restore Missoula to fiscal sanity. Lets work on bringing in substantial jobs that will support families. Feel free to come to the Union Club this Thursday, the fifth to meet me and discuss the future of the town we all love. Free appetizers, coffee, and adult beverages available at the bar.
    Come meet me, Sept. 5 from 5-8

    Peggy Cain
    Runnning for Mayor
    No RSVP needed
    bring your friends
  22. SeenClearly
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    SeenClearly - September 04, 2013 10:13 am
    This is cheap especially considering all the earth moving that it will take along 93. The Russell Street reconstruction will cost almost 60 million dollars for 1.5 miles! Will people complain about that?! Moving cars is expensive, moving bike and peds is cheap.
  23. SeenClearly
    Report Abuse
    SeenClearly - September 04, 2013 10:11 am
    You are wrong. Get your facts straight before spouting-off. Thousands of private dollars supported the grant writing process.
  24. SeenClearly
    Report Abuse
    SeenClearly - September 04, 2013 10:08 am
    Bike - pedestrian paths are good public health! Active lifestyles go hand-in-hand with healthy communities and healthy happy adults and kids.
  25. GaryTinkSanders
    Report Abuse
    GaryTinkSanders - September 04, 2013 9:11 am
    Attempt # 2
    This 4.5 million dollar grant would have went a long ways for a new school in Lolo, something that is really needed, Where did the city of Missoula get 400,000 to put in the pot when they have to continue to raise taxes on the tax payers, wasn't that long ago when they were trying to figure out how they were going to make budget now a few months later they are spending money like drunken sailors. Missoula county commissioners can't get it write but they sure as hell can write big checks. How about a Million or two for the new school in Lolo.
  26. mountaincycle
    Report Abuse
    mountaincycle - September 04, 2013 8:00 am
    This is awesome. This trail will make it finally safe for cyclists to get to Lolo and back. This is a terrifying stretch of road to ride. While I agree the cost seems high how much did it cost to build roads for cars ROI get there. Just because you drive doesn't give you anymore right to safe travels. I wonder where some folks actually live based on their repeated comments... Many of us have been a long time for this trail. We have enough homeless shelters and soup kitchens around here. Finally time something was done around here for the WORKING traveling man.
  27. Pistol
    Report Abuse
    Pistol - September 04, 2013 7:28 am
    We had an article recently about under funding of Head Start, and how it effects so many families. At the time I wrote it is just another example of government cutting back on high profile programs rather than government waste. Here is a classic example. If we the people had a balanced budget, and all true needed programs funded, fine build bike paths.
  28. John P Weber
    Report Abuse
    John P Weber - September 04, 2013 6:26 am
    Not a bad idea, until those cyclists get into Missoula and start interrupting traffic and ignoring traffic laws putting themselves at risk in traffic. I've seen very few cyclists pay attention to what they are doing in the city, much like many auto drivers.
  29. MontanaJim72
    Report Abuse
    MontanaJim72 - September 04, 2013 3:09 am
    Whitefish spent over a million dollars on a bikepath from downtown to the turnoff to Big Mountain. It's very pretty, with all the expensive lights. Yet, I drive down the road and I see bikers continuing to use the highway as their pathway. If they aren't going to use the bike path that was paid for in taxpayer dollars (and none in usage fees for bicycles, unlike cars, who pay their way), why was it installed to begin with. I would bet money that a Lolo to Missoula bike path will still result in bicycle riders riding on Highway 93. They are certainly entitled to do that under Montana law, but I don't want to pay for a bike path if they are going to use the same highway as always.
  30. johnny Dollar
    Report Abuse
    johnny Dollar - September 04, 2013 2:50 am
    Of course this is an absurd project. These bike paths are all the rage all over the country......and all for the same reason. The majority of the funds come from "Other people's taxes"......so I guess that makes it okay.

    Very few people use the path on the other side of Lolo......I seldom see more than a few bikes on it.

    This is what happens when the public stands idly by while the city rakes in far greater tax revenues then they need.

    Anyone here ever consider pushing bake on property taxes?

    Anyone notice that property taxes have more than doubled in the last 10 years (mine have trebled!).

    Mayor McCheese loved to spend your money......and other people's monies too. What he does not want to do is go earn an honest living actually producing something.
  31. ClearThinker
    Report Abuse
    ClearThinker - September 04, 2013 12:04 am
    I'm I the only one questioning the cost of this bike trail? Seems to me $645,000 per mile is extremely excessive.
    People don't ask these questions when it's "free money" an not theirs being spent.
    Common sense anyone?
  32. Meggen Ryan
    Report Abuse
    Meggen Ryan - September 03, 2013 9:57 pm
    $5,480,000 for 8 miles? $129/foot. It's a nice idea, but why does it cost this much? And none of the funds is for land acquisition.
  33. wondering
    Report Abuse
    wondering - September 03, 2013 9:21 pm
    This cannot be real. We are a bankrupt country borrowing and printing money. $5 million for a bike path to Lolo! Put the money in to head start or food for the hungry, not a bike path. The final days of the Roman Empire must have been like this. Total insanity.
  34. libertarian
    Report Abuse
    libertarian - September 03, 2013 9:02 pm
    If people supported this project, we wouldn't have all this tax payer money. So how much from the general public via donations, went into this project. None. the city didn't have money for a primary election yet can always find money for other things. Give me a break.
  35. MiddleFinger
    Report Abuse
    MiddleFinger - September 03, 2013 7:32 pm


    This is the single most exciting thing to happen to Missoula in a decade!

    The reality of a unified trail system will attract a new brand of clean tourism boosting the economy, and furthering MSOs standing as a high quality town.

    Integrated bike paths raise all property values.

  36. MontanaTom
    Report Abuse
    MontanaTom - September 03, 2013 7:30 pm
    That's great news... meanwhile at the local food banks and homeless shelters...
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