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City awards engineering contracts for River Trail, Karrow Ave

by JULIE ENGLER
Whitefish Pilot | March 15, 2023 1:00 AM

The Whitefish City Council approved requests to award engineering contracts for two ventures, the Riverbend Trail Project and the Karrow Avenue Reconstruction Project.

City staff worked with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee on a conceptual design for the Riverbend Trail. Local landscape architect Bruce Boody volunteered his time and created the design for an elevated path built on helical piers for this important section of the Whitefish River Trail.

This section of the river trail runs just to the west of the Riverbend Condominiums. The path currently stops just under the Second Street bridge where steps lead up to Miles Avenue. Trail users have to follow Miles Avenue north in order to connect back to the trail.

According to the staff report, the elevated design allows the 10‐foot wide path to extend over the Whitefish River while utilizing the six‐foot easement the city holds over property owned by the Riverbend Condominium Homeowners' Association.

The Riverbend Condominium Homeowners’ Association protested the extension of the trail when council decided to pursue the construction of the section in November 2021. Despite a previously established 6-foot easement on the property for the trail, the association was opposed to its construction.

In September 2022, John Phelps, on behalf of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and Boody presented two designs for the trail to the Whitefish City Council and received the go ahead for Boody’s elevated design.

Two months later, the council directed staff to proceed with the selection process for an engineering firm.

Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman said three proposals were received, interviews were conducted and the selection panel agreed the contract should be awarded to TD&H.

“Honestly, we had three really good proposals but we thought TD&H really stood out,” Workman said. “They put together a fantastic design team and had more experience building trails in complicated river environments.”

The staff report says the engineer will be responsible for surveying, engineering design, public relations and construction management services.

“We have worked with TD&H on a number of past engineering projects and we have budgeted $100,000 from the general fund cash reserves this year to begin design and surveying of the project,” Workman added.

Councilor Guiseppe Caltabiano, a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, said the committee had met earlier in the day and had a request for the council.

“The committee… recommends council elevate the Riverbend Trail project as a priority to the upcoming budget,” Caltabiano said.

Council approved the request to award the engineering contract to TD&H by a vote of 5-0.

THE KARROW Avenue Reconstruction Project is the next project on the resort tax priority list due to its high traffic volume and unsuitable roadway conditions. Additionally, the community needs a bike/pedestrian connection between West Second Street and West Seventh Street, according to city staff.

In November, city staff was authorized to select an engineering firm for the project. They received proposals from three companies: Robert, Peccia & Associates, KLJ and WGM Group.

After interviewing the companies, it was decided that the contracts should be awarded to Robert, Peccia & Associates (RPA).

“RPA has a 20-year track record of successfully completing urban reconstruction projects for the city and they really did rise to the top,” said Workman.

Construction is anticipated to include road, storm sewer and pedestrian improvements. The staff report states the engineering consultant will be responsible for the design of approximately 2,000 feet of Karrow Avenue, from West Second Street to West Seventh Street.

The budget for this project in fiscal year 2023 is approximately $50,000 which should allow for the survey work and design of the project.

Council had no further questions and voted unanimously to award the engineering contract to RPA.