Construction of the long-awaited Glacier Rail Park will begin this month, kicking off the transformation of a 40-acre tract off Whitefish Stage Road into a business park that will spur more than $38 million in public and private investment over the coming years.
A public groundbreaking ceremony is planned at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 801 Whitefish Stage Road, formerly the McElroy and Wilkin gravel pit. Those attending are encouraged to follow the signs for parking at the east access point of the rail park at the intersection of Montclair Drive, Flathead Drive and Oregon Lane behind Office Max on U.S. 2 East.
Special guests include Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Rail Administration, BNSF Railway Co. and Watco/Mission Mountain Rail Companies.
Glacier Rail Park is the first phase of the Kalispell Core Area Project, a five-year, infrastructure and redevelopment project conceived to remove the rail tracks from downtown Kalispell and replace them with a pedestrian trail that stretches from Woodland Park to Meridian Road. The project also will build additional north-south connector roads and open up underutilized property in the Kalispell Core Area to redevelopment.
The city of Kalispell and Flathead County Economic Development Authority are partners in the project. The two entities received a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for investment in roads, rail, traffic signals and a pedestrian trail, creating additional opportunities for investment and development in Kalispell’s Westside Tax Increment Finance District.
The two users of rail in the Kalispell Core Area currently are CHS Inc. and Northwest Drywall and Building Supply. Next year both companies will move to new facilities in Glacier Rail Park, located at the northeastern edge of the city. Additionally, the rail park will offer team track for use by businesses located outside of the Rail Park that require occasional transload services or infrequent access to rail.
Flathead County Economic Development Authority is partnering with Watco Companies and Mission Mountain Rail to bring these services to Kalispell. One additional site of 8 to 10 acres located directly on the rail and zoned for industrial use is available for lease or purchase.