Council awards rail park bid

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LHC Inc. received the $11 million bid for construction of Kalispell’s new industrial rail park Monday evening at the Kalispell City Council meeting.

The 41-acre park will be a rail-served industrial facility built to serve the northwest Montana region. The park will create 20 business lots on the east side of Whitefish Stage Road, north of East Oregon Street and west of East Oregon Lane.

Rail-reliant businesses currently located in the downtown Kalispell area will be relocated to the park upon its completion.

Development of the park will include upgrading several roads to meet city of Kalispell road standards, installing storm-water collection and disposal, extending city water and sewer service, adding a signaled intersection, providing dry utilities (gas, electricity, etc.) and construction of various railroads.

LHC Inc. previously worked on the Kalispell Bypass and Whitefish 93 West construction projects and is currently working on the Fourth Avenue East Water Main Replacement Project.

Up to 62 percent of the rail park project is funded by a federal TIGER grant awarded to the city in October 2015. Westside/Core Area tax-increment financing will fund the remaining $4.3 million of the project.

“This is going to be transformational for the city of Kalispell,” council member Phil Guiffrida said of the park.

The motion to award the bid passed with a unanimous vote and a long sigh from Planning and Building Director Tom Jentz.

“It was a big night. This is a huge milestone,” Jentz said. “We’ve been working on this for over seven years, and we finally have reached a point where we will see construction begin on the rail park.”

According to Jentz, construction of the park will allow for the transfer of rail-reliant businesses and the removal of the tracks downtown, making way for the development and redevelopment of the Core Area.

“It’s a win-win all the way around,” Jentz added.

Jentz said the project is still awaiting the completion of an environmental impact study and a notice to proceed, which he expects in the next few weeks, before LHC can break ground.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin Aug. 1.

For more information on the Glacier Rail Park and council agendas and minutes, visit http://kalispell.com.

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or mtaylor@dailyinterlake.com.

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