$4.5M Grant Funds Lolo-Missoula Trail - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

$4.5M Grant Funds Lolo-Missoula Trail

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MISSOULA -

The City of Missoula and Missoula County receive a $4.5 million federal grant to connect two local walking and biking trails, and complete a 50-mile path all the way to Hamilton.

City Open Space Program Manager, Jackie Corday, said Missoula was up against more than 600 applicants from across the U.S. for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery -- or TIGER -- grant.

And, Corday said only 4% of those applicants actually win TIGER grants.

She said, "So, we knew that our odds were super daunting, but we knew our odds were zero if we didn't try!"

Corday said the grant money will allow them to connect an eight mile gap along a winding stretch of Highway 93 between Missoula and Lolo.

Corday said the risk of running or biking on the thin shoulder of the highway has deterred thousands of locals and visitors from attempting to bridge the gap.

She said the new 10-foot-wide, paved trail will provide a safe route to take along the east side of the highway.

"The local economy is going to benefit very much from those travelers coming through."

The new gateway will connect the existing Bitterroot Branch Trail in downtown Missoula, to the Bitterroot Trail just south of Lolo School.

Corday said, "They'll be able to just go right from their front porch, on their bike, and recreate."

Director of Travel Initiatives at Adventure Cycling, Virginia Sullivan, said earning the grant took the dedicated work of many outdoor enthusiasts and organizations in the community.

"I mean, it was back in our master transportation plan over 20 years ago to do this, and it's… it's amazing that we got it," Sullivan said.

Corday said the grant will provide about $4.58 million for the $5.5 million project.

She said they'll pull the remainder from City, County and Department of Transportation funds.

"It's just so exciting because… this trail wouldn't have never happened without this federal grant," Corday explained.

Project leaders said they'll go through the trail design process in 2014 and they hope to begin construction in 2015.

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