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County continues work on bicycle-walking path

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| June 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Lincoln County commissioners reviewed plans for a walking/biking path in Libby with design engineer Marc Liechti while inviting comments from the public during a hearing on Wednesday morning.

Liechti presented the board with preliminary drawings for what is identified as phase two of the path’s construction, which would be paid for through the Community Transportation Enhancement Program, or CTEP.

The proposed 8-foot-wide path would extend the existing old Champion Haul Road trail nearly two miles further, starting at East Fifth Street Extension, running south between Libby Creek and the Kootenai Industrial Business Park, and featuring a loop around the Heritage Museum area.

Tony Berget, who represents Libby on the commissioners’ board, said the industrial district requested that a fence be installed on the backside of its property bordering the path. Liechti said fences fall within CTEP guidelines if installed for safety reasons.

Liechti said CTEP takes up to six months to review applications. Based on those timeframes, the path could be constructed next spring.

Berget has also proposed building restroom facilities at the Mill Pond Motocross track, although that would not be covered by CTEP money.

In addition, Libby school superintendent Kirby Maki asked commissioners about the possibility of utilizing CTEP funds to improve the walking trail at Asa Wood. The aging trail, which is heavily used by local residents, is about a half-mile in length with an approximate width of four feet. Newer sections of the trail have a width of eight feet.

“It will soon become a serious safety concern due to the deterioration of the asphalt,” Maki said.

The county receives about $88,000 per year through CTEP, and rotates projects every three years between Libby, Troy and Eureka. In all, nearly $600,000 in CTEP funds are available and commissioners try to cap each project at no more than $290,000.

In other news from the commissioners meeting:

• Commissioners reviewed two bids that were received to provide meals to Lincoln County inmates. Kootenai Catering and St. John’s Lutheran Hospital each submitted bids. Commissioners took the matter under advisement.

• Commissioners proclaimed June 21-27 as “Wildfire Awareness Week.” The proclamation was issued as a way to encourage fire-safe behavior through fuel-reduction efforts, landscaping and use of fire-resistant construction methods and materials on homes. The proclamation also included the county’s participation in FireSafe Montana to bring public awareness to what is seen as an increasing risk.

• The board approved a motion to distribute Metal Mines License Tax funds to the Libby and Troy school districts as it becomes available. Payments and interest totaling $72,351.27 will be split three ways between the county, elementary districts and high school districts. Broken down, distributions will go to Troy Elementary ($14,277.32), Libby Elementary ($9,839.77), Troy High School ($13,216.17) and Libby High School ($10,900.92).

• Commissioners approved bids from Northwest Fuel out of Kalispell to install a new fuel tank system at Libby Airport ($282,861) and Bobcat West out of Spokane, Wash., for new snow removal equipment at Eureka Airport ($53,916). The high majority of funding originates with Federal Aviation Administration grants.

• Early indications on the July 1 agenda include a report from Paul Bradford of Kootenai National Forest, a wildfire presentation by Ed Levert and a subdivision review. Other topics may be added to the agenda leading up to the meeting.