Commissioners review TIGER grant application for Varney, Blaine Springs Bridges

At their regular meeting on Tuesday Madison County Commissioners accepted the environmental assessments for Blaine Springs and Varney Bridge to be included in the counties’ application for a TIGER grant to fund a $5.1 million project to replace the two bridges.

Great West Engineering president Dan McCauley and project manager Jeremiah Theys met with the board to review the application and discuss details for funding the project.

Currently Madison County has $250,000 committed toward the project along with an application for a Treasure State Endowment Program grant for $700,000. While the remainder of the project would essentially be paid for by the TIGER grant, Theys explained that the project would not move forward without it, and at this point Great West is working with the county to bolster the application before it is submitted on Friday.

“The political side is going to be the key,” Theys said.

One of the requirements for a TIGER grant is a 25 percent funding match for urban projects, but not for rural projects like Blaine Springs / Varney Bridge. Commissioner Jim Hart said commissioners are confident that Madison County will qualify for the TSEP grant, which will be crucial to funding the project, but that will not be finalized until May.

“We are reasonably certain that we can use that as a match,” Hart said of the TSEP grant.

The project parameters call for a standard two-lane structure with a 24’ driving lane, overhead truss design, concrete deck and standard guardrail approach. Some minor road work is be required for the project and county road crews would widen the existing road, bringing in gravel and re-surfacing the roadway.

During the discussion the board placed a conference call Jeff Ebert, District Two Administrator for the Montana Department of Transportation, to ask for support for the project from MDT. Ebert agreed with the outline of the counties’ application for the TIGER grant and offered support from MDT for the project.

“What we are simply trying to do is enhance our application by showing that there is support not only from private donations but also from the county and state,” Hart said.

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