When visitors bring their bicycles to tour Western Montana, they will often transport them on car racks through Missoula and out to Lolo, so they can ride the bike trail that stretches from Lolo to Hamilton.

That situation is about to change, since city and county officials announced on Tuesday, September 3, that a $4.5 million dollar TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant has been received to finally construct the Lolo to Missoula trail.

Missoula City Parks Open Space Program Manager Jackie Corday said the application process for the TIGER grant began in May.

"It's part of a big stimulus package that started back in 2008," Corday said. "This time, we thought an excellent project for the grant would be completing the Lolo to Missoula trail. It is a critical gap in the trail system. The Bitterroot trail was built along with each section of the highway, and that's how the trail was built from Lolo all the way to Hamilton. Completing the trail from Lolo to Missoula would be so expensive that it wouldn't be possible just using city or county funds."

Corday said the project will get underway as soon as possible.

"TIGER projects are on a tight timeline," Corday said. "You have to have the project committed by one year from the grant award, which is today. It's most likely that the project will be constructed in 2015."

Corday provided more details about funding, including that the grant is for $4.58 million.

"The trail itself will cost about $5.5 million dollars to construct," Corday said. "Missoula County is kicking in $500,000 and the city is kicking in $400,000. The Montana Department of Transportation is throwing in $100,000 worth of millings, that is, recycled asphalt, that can be used for the trail's surface."

Corday said the stretch from Missoula to Lolo has always been the most frightening part of the trip in Western Montana for bicyclists, but with the trail in place by 2015, that problem will be solved. Bicyclists and walkers will be able to travel safely from Missoula all the way to Hamilton.

Missoula City Parks Open Space Program Manager Jackie Corday

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