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 wasn't successful, the county said on Thursday.

It's not yet known why the application wasn't approved, though it's likely the two governments will continue to search for federal funding to complete the work. Funding instead went to four other projects in Montana, all of them rural, including a gravel road.

“The city was unsuccessful on its grant application for the (Mullan) grant area,” said Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. “We'll be needing to regroup on that.”

The city in March announced its intent 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.

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

"Obviously, we are disappointed. We think we have a great project that checks a lot of the boxes, but apparently the reviewers didn’t see it that way," said Jeremy Keene, director of Public Works for the city. "We’ll see what we can learn and continue to look for future opportunities. Meantime, we’ll build what we can with the funding that is available. The project will take longer and more of the cost burden will fall to local home buyers and renters."

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

The Department of Transportation said the projects were evaluated on several criteria including safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, mobility and connectivity, among others.

“We're not short on projects to be submitting grant applications for,” said Shane Stack, director of Public Works for Missoula County.

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

Under that work, the county on Thursday approved a contract amendment with DJ&A to cover the need for additional testing. The work will be subcontracted to CMG out of Kalispell in the amount of $8,800.

“As construction is completed on the project, we have to go in and test the materials, the density, the gradation of the gravel,” said Stack. “There's a lot of testing of materials that goes on. We want to make sure those testing procedures and testing materials are accurate. There's a certain amount of testing the tests.”

In Montana, the following projects will benefit from 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 one mile of buffered multi-use pathways, numerous intersections, parking and ADA access improvements in the downtown region of Columbia Falls.

The project improvements will help provide more safe, accessible transportation corridors, resulting in reduced emissions. The project will benefit the community, including seniors, people with disabilities, and school-aged children. The project will also promote energy efficiencies with the replacement of aging, leaking water mains.

Chippewa Cree Tribe Route 6 Planning Grant – The Chippewa Cree Tribe will receive $2.1 million for this planning project that will fund a Corridor Planning Study to evaluate BIA Route 6 on Rocky Boy’s Reservation.

The project seeks to improve safety and reduce the likelihood of vehicle crashes and slide offs by upgrading the condition of the current asphalt, which has significant surface and subgrade deterioration.

The project sponsor will be collaborating with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Tribal Transportation Program (TTP) system, which governs all planning and relevant Tribal responsibilities for all Reservation roads, 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 groundwater and surface water quality that is used for irrigation.

The project also provides the opportunity to install solar mounts to connect to nearby solar installations. The project will facilitate emergency response, as well as provide more reliable and timely access to jobs and essential services. The creation of a bike lane will improve mobility and connectivity by linking US93 and MT564 with a cycling route between the communities.

Northern Cheyenne Rosebud Cut-Across US 212 to MT 39 – The Northern Cheyenne Tribe will receive $15.8 million to reconstruct approximately 3.1 miles of existing gravel road on the Rosebud Cut-Across to include a two-lane paved route with two-foot shoulders, geometric improvements, safety enhancements, improved signage, and a separated multimodal pedestrian and bicycle pathway.

The project will improve safe transportation infrastructure for travelers between the communities on the Reservation and provide better access for emergency response vehicles. The project will improve the overall air quality for communities and address negative environmental impacts of transportation by alleviating vehicle congestion during seasonal and crash-related closures. The project will increase affordable transportation choices and help modernize core infrastructure in the area.