No federal dollars for Ponderay railroad underpass — this time

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

It’s good news-bad news for the city of Ponderay and Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail. Residents approved the city’s 1% local option sales tax Nov. 5 — securing the necessary 60% supermajority by a margin of one vote — a portion of which will go toward extending lake access and connection to the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail via a railroad underpass.  

That was the good news. The bad news, delivered Nov. 12, is that Ponderay didn’t receive the funding it requested from the fiscal year 2019 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grant program that would have supported design, engineering and construction of the $9.82 million underpass.

That means it’s back to the drawing board for another grant attempt, albeit with a little more support after the Nov. 5 election.

“With some local match —  from the local option tax — the city should be more competitive in the next round,” said Friends of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail President Susan Drumheller.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the award of BUILD grants totaling $900 million to 55 projects in 35 states, none in Idaho. 

Montana received $13 million for a street and trail system project in Missoula; Oregon was awarded $15.5 million to fund a 3.97-mile four-lane highway upgrade near Medford; and Washington garnered a combined $31.3 million to construct a facility for train loading, offloading and circulation at the Spokane International Airport and purchase brownfields at the Port of Everett.

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