Lake County gets $12 million for roads

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Lake County will get $12 million in federal stimulus money for construction work, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced.

Construction on Skyline Drive and on other roads, bike and pedestrian paths in Lake County can now move forward after the Department of Transportation signed a grant agreement with Montana’s Lake County Community Development Corporation for $12 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.  

“Rebuilding Skyline Drive and repairing roads and paths in Lake County are important examples of the Obama administration’s commitment to rebuilding our transportation infrastructure and creating jobs,” LaHood said in a news release. “This Recovery Act grant is allowing us to improve safety by funding road improvement projects that wouldn’t have been possible for years.”

Though it is a primary access route to and from St. Joseph’s Medical Center, one of only two hospitals in the county, Skyline Drive is in extremely poor condition.

The Montana Department of Transportation identified the 2.4 miles of Skyline Drive, with its steep grades, sharp curves and narrow bridge, as a risk in its Safety Management Program. 

Money also will be used to improve other roads and bike and pedestrian paths over a 30-mile-wide area.

The $12 million grant is more than six times the annual combined road and bridge budgets for Lake County, which is considered an economically distressed area.

The grant is part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program included in the federal stimulus legislation to promote innovative, multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, region or the nation.

“It is critical to ensure roads in our rural communities get the attention they deserve,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. “These funds will help the area’s residents enjoy a better quality of life and greater roadway safety and will also create jobs in an area that needs them.”

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