What is Missoula’s TIGER project?
Missoula County and its partners received a $4,580,363 rural TIGER grant award to construct the Missoula-to-Lolo (M2L) trail. This eight-mile 10-foot wide shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path will parallel US Highway 93 between Missoula and Lolo. When the project is complete, the new trail will connect Lolo with the City of Missoula’s Bitterroot Branch Trail, allowing continuous shared-use path connectivity between downtown Missoula and Hamilton. While the majority of trail construction will be in the County, a portion of the missing link is located within the limits of the City of Missoula.
What is a TIGER grant?
TIGER is the acronym for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) – a federal discretionary grant program. TIGER provides the opportunity for the U.S. Department of Transportation to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Of the approximately $474 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funds allocated for TIGER projects, $123.4 million is designated for projects in rural areas of the country.
What is the project cost, what does TIGER fund, and who are the local funding partners?
The estimated cost to build the trail is approximately $5,480,363 and will be funded largely through the $4,580,363 rural TIGER grant award. TIGER funds will be used to pay for engineering, design and construction of the trail.
While TIGER will fund the majority of the project, local partners have committed cash and in-kind resources valued at $900,000. Missoula County and City each will contribute $400,000 in funds or in-kind services and materials. The Montana Department of Transportation will contribute $100,000 in materials.
What is the route?
The new trail will provide a connection between the Bitterroot Branch Trail in Missoula and the Bitterroot Trail in Lolo. At the north end, the project will start at the northwest corner of Reserve St. (US 93) and Old Highway 93. From here, the trail will run along the north side of Old Highway 93 to the intersection with Lower Miller Creek Road. The trail will then cross the Bitterroot River on the west (north) side of the existing Buckhouse Bridge. At this point, the trail will cross the river via a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge adjacent to Buckhouse Bridge.
At Blue Mountain Rd., the trail will cross US 93 to the east side and will run south between US 93 and the Montana Rail Link (MRL) rail line towards Lolo. In Lolo, at the intersection of US 93 and Glacier/Ridgeway Drives, the trail will cross back to the west side of US 93 to connect with the existing pathway in Lolo.
When will I be able to see the route plan?
While the route is planned, the design team is working on detailed trail design. The project team will hold an informational public meeting in April, 2014 to share the plans and seek comments on trail features including benches, signs and other amenities. Please check back for exact dates and times.
When can I use the trail?
Construction could begin as soon as the fall of 2014 and it may take up to 18 months to complete the project. We look forward to a grand opening of the trail in 2015. Please check back for updates.