An ambitious proposal would add a mile-long walking and biking paved path along Hamilton's Golf Course Road. The local group Bike Walk Bitterroot is spearheading a campaign to apply for Montana Transportation Alternative funding to create what would be an extension of the new RAL Trail along Big Corral Road on Stock Farm property.

Kyle Barber of Bike Walk Bitterroot presented the plan to the Ravalli County Commissioners Thursday. The result was the Commission authorized the group to develop the grant application and pledged $20,000 toward matching funds if the grant is awarded. Barber said the deadline is June 4th and the group has already worked on developing the plan with consultations from the County Park Board, the County Road and Bridge Department and Hamilton Public Works.

The 1.15 mile long paved path would be on the south side of the road and would be between 8-10 feet wide, with a 3 foot gravel buffer between it and the Golf Course Road, starting at US 93 and ending at Tammany Heights on Hillcrest. There would be "safe crossing" intersections at Daly Avenue, leading to Daly Elementary School and at Antigone Lane, leading to the already existing RAL Trail. Total cost is estimated at $750,000. the Montana Transportation Alternative could pay for $650,000 of that bill. That would leave $100,000 for the local match, of which Bike Walk Bitterroot has commitments of $50,000 so far.

The RAL Trail on Bitter Root Stock Farm property was created as a memorial to Robert A. Leonardi, who was struck and killed by a car on Golf Course Road. The new path along Golf Course Road would be considered an extension of RAL Trail.

In May, Bike Walk Bitterroot will be meeting with landowners who might be impacted by the trail, to request right-of-way permission. The group will also be fundraising to reach the local match for the grant. And Barber cautioned, there are other Montana projects competing for the grant money.

RAL Trail entrance at Golf Course Road. (Steve Fullerton/Townsquare Media)

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