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Whitefish council OKs Edgewood, Monegan road projects

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | May 5, 2021 12:00 AM

The Whitefish City Council on Monday unanimously approved a plan to rebuild a stretch of Edgewood Place, the first of two phases in a multimillion-dollar road improvement project funded in part by the city's resort tax.

Crews are expected to rebuild Edgewood Place between Colorado Avenue and the eastern edge of the city between July and October this year, then rebuild Texas Avenue from Edgewood to its northern end in 2022.

Craig Workman, the city's public works director, presented preliminary plans to the council in February. On Monday, the council granted him permission to solicit bids from construction contractors.

"This section of collector roadway is the only means of ingress/egress to and from Whitefish on the north side of the viaduct," Workman wrote in a memo to the council. "The project will involve enhancements to driver and pedestrian safety, stormwater management improvements and water distribution safety upgrades."

IN FEBRUARY, the first phase of the project was projected to cost about $2.35 million. Now Workman estimates it will cost about $2.54 million. The bulk of it would be covered by Whitefish's resort tax, while smaller amounts would come from the city's stormwater and water impact fee funds.

"It should be noted that the current bidding environment is quite volatile due to shortages in materials and labor," Workman wrote. "The estimate is based on recently bid projects of a similar scale and scope in the Flathead Valley, however project costs have fluctuated considerably this year."

The council awarded an engineering contract for the project to Robert Peccia and Associates in September. Workman wrote that city staff have been "working hard with RPA to balance the desires of residents to maintain the rural character and quality of the neighborhood with the long-term vision and growth projections for the corridor."

The reconstruction of Edgewood Place will involve replacing a 50-year-old water main, adding a sidewalk on the north side of the road, installing street lights and reducing the width of the road from 32 feet to 28 feet.

"The reduced width will help to calm traffic, while still providing the necessary space for bicyclists on the roadway," Workman wrote. "It will also help to maintain additional distance between the proposed improvements and the existing homes on the north side of the road."

Workman told the council the project will take place in three sections, each of which will be closed for a limited number of days or weeks.

"It's a big, big project, and I really appreciate the staff spending so much time helping the people that live there prepare for the change," council member Rebecca Norton said.

Norton also highlighted that the project budget includes more than $100,000 for landscape restoration after the roadway is rebuilt.

"I think that'll make everybody feel better about the loss of what they perceive as their front yard," she said.

THE COUNCIL also approved a resolution authorizing the city to withdraw funds from a state account created by the Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act, a 2017 Montana law that raised the state's gas tax to pay for transportation projects.

The city will withdraw about $185,000, the full amount available to Whitefish for fiscal 2021, to continue the reconstruction of Monegan Road. That will require the city to contribute a 5% "local match" of about $9,200 from its streets fund.

The first phase of the project was completed last year on a stretch south of Voerman Road. The city has been accruing annual proceeds from the state gas-tax account to reconstruct the remaining gravel portion of Monegan to the intersection of JP Road in fiscal 2023.

Reporter Chad Sokol can be reached at 758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com