by Evelyn Pyburn-Published in the Yellowstone County News
LOCKWOOD — The Lockwood Pedestrian Safety Board is requesting as much community support as possible in its quest to secure a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant from the State of Montana. Citizens are being asked to write letters of support to accompany the application by July 31.
The grant would help fund what is estimated to be a $300,000 project to build a sidewalk along Becraft Lane in Lockwood, from Noblewood Drive to Old Hardin Road. The project has been set as a priority by the Pedestrian Safety Board, which was created a year ago to address a need for lighting and sidewalks in the community. A child was killed by a vehicle while he was walking along Becraft Lane about two and a half years ago — an incident that catapulted the creation of the pedestrian safety district by Lockwood voters. There was also an earlier incident that resulted in the death of another child on Old Hardin Road.
Becraft Lane was identified as a priority for a sidewalk, second only to a sidewalk along Highway 87 leading to Lockwood School, which is proposed for construction this summer. That project may, however, have hit a snag with bids coming in much higher than budgeted.
The one bid received from CMG Construction, Billings, was almost $140,000 over the projected estimate. The bid was for $338,961, while engineers estimated it would cost about $200,000. The board will decide at its next meeting what next steps to take in dealing with that project.
“We are certainly disappointed that the pricing came in much higher than expected, but we are definitely not going to stop fighting to make Lockwood a safer place to live in and commute through,” said Board Chairman Nic Talmark. “Our goal is to provide safe and functional corridors for non-motorized transportation, but it has to be at a reasonable value.”
Talmark reported, “ We are leaning towards rebidding the project, possibly in stages if necessary, to fit within our budget. The lack of participation and seemingly high pricing may be a product of our timeline and the bid environment during this busy summer season. Our consulting team is looking into the obstacles that lead to this result. We may be forced to delay the construction of the path longer than we originally hoped (we wanted to have it completed before school started), but we are still shooting to complete construction as close to the beginning of the school year as possible.”
The TAP grant will help fund the designing of the sidewalk for Becraft Lane, which carries over 2,600 vehicle trips per day. The Lockwood and Billings school districts also have over nine bus stops on Becraft Lane with no staging area for students to wait. The Becraft Lane Sidewalk project will provide a safe place for bus stops and a route for pedestrians to connect to the Johnson Lane commercial area.
The TAP application, being prepared for the Pedestrian Safety Board by Big Sky Economic Development, will be in competition with applications from other communities for projects. A lot of broad community support will improve the application’s chances for success, according to the board, which is asking that letters be sent by July 14 in order to help facilitate the July 31 application deadline.
Letters should be addressed to Mr. Bill Kennedy, Chairman of the Yellowstone County Commissioners, Yellowstone County, 217 North 27th Street, Billings, MT 59101. They may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copies should also be sent to Patrick Klugman at email@example.com or mailed to Patrick Klugman, Community Development Project Manager, Big Sky Economic Development, 222 North 32nd Street, Suite 200, Billings, Montana 59101.
Questions may be directed to Klugman at (406) 869-8418.