Grant sought for Lakeshore paving

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A motorist approaches the end of the paved portion of Lakeshore Drive on Tuesday. The county is seeking a state grant to finish paving on the riverside route. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)

SAGLE — Bonner County is seeking grant funding to finish off the hard-surfacing of Lakeshore Drive.

Bonner County commissioners unanimously approved a grant application through the Idaho Transportation Department’s Local Highway Technical Assistance Council’s local rural highway investment program, which is expected to award $1 million of grant funding in $100,000 increments to local jurisdictions across the state.

Road & Bridge Director Steve Klatt told commissioners on Tuesday that the $100,000 grant request would be used to offset half the cost of materials in hard-surfacing the last 3 1/2 miles of Lakeshore Drive.

The bituminous surface treatment, also known as a chip seal, would be used to upgrade the last stretch of gravel road leading to the Pend Oreille River’s Morton Slough.

The matter of Lakeshore Drive became a source of consternation as Bonner County began planning its expenditures for the 2019 fiscal year. Landowners who rely on the riverside route objected to its lack of improvement in the face of planned improvements to Wooded Acres Drive, upgrades which are being funded with seed money provided by local residents.

Lakeshore landowners argue that the county’s willingness to prioritize road improvements based on neighborhood contributions instead of traffic data amounted to a “pay and play” scenario.

County commissioners sidestepped the controversy during their brief discussion on Tuesday.

“These grants are very worthwhile and they are help us quite a bit with funding. Even though we have to bear a considerable amount still, this helps pay for part of it. It’s a good program,” Commission Chairman Glen Bailey said.

Commissioner Jeff Connolly said nearly a half-dozen projects were considered for the LHTAC grant funding, but Lakeshore Drive emerged as a priority.

Klatt told commissioners the local rural highway investment program is competitive grant cycle.

“This one it seems like it would have a reasonable chance but it’s competitive,” Klatt said.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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