While the state negotiates with Union Pacific Railroad, hoping to create a 72-mile recreational trail along an abandoned right of way, Kellogg is going great guns with one small stretch of it.
The city began work on a 1-mile path within the city limits last summer.
Two hundred trees were planted; barbecues and park benches were installed. This spring, a federal highway grant will be used to pave the hike-and-bike path plus light and irrigate the 10-acre greenbelt it traverses.
Next, city planner Walter Hadley wants to expand the path to Elizabeth Park on the east and Smelterville on the west. That would result in 4.5 miles of trail linking the Silver Valley communities.
“We’re trying to extend it far enough to tie into the Silver Mountain bike trails so we can get everyone off the roads in the summertime,” he said. “The bikers end up in Big Creek or out in Pinehurst, and they have to get back to the (Silver Mountain resort) gondola.”
Kellogg has invested $50,000 in the work that’s been done in town. That starts at the railroad depot on the east end of town and extends west to Silver Mountain Park, from which the gondola carries passengers up to the resort’s slopes.
The paving and other improvements will be done with a $250,000 federal grant administered by the Idaho Department of Transportation.
Late this month, Hadley will request $80,000 to $100,000 from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, for paving the additional 3.5 miles. That would add to about $150,000 from a Union Pacific grant that Kellogg already has pinned down.
The balance of the $204,000 railroad grant would be used for maintenance, Hadley said.
The 72-mile rails-to-trails project would extend from Plummer to Mullan. Union Pacific has offered to pave the path; the state parks department would manage the trail.
But that project is being held up by concerns about liability for mining-related pollution along the route. For decades, lead and other metals dripped from the boxcars that transported ore from the Bunker Hill smelter.
Kellogg doesn’t have to deal with the pollution issue because it lies within the 21-square-mile Superfund site that surrounds the former smelter area. Environmental cleanup is being done there at federal expense.
Hadley hopes the big trail project succeeds, but said Kellogg decided to proceed with its own plans in any case.
“What I’ve done is focused on our own community, trying to make whatever we do complement whatever happens in the big picture,” he said.
Hadley has even bigger ideas. He’s suggested that Northwest Pipeline, which is looking for a new route for its natural gas pipeline, put it beneath a recreational trail leading from Missoula to Cataldo.
That may end up being a pipe dream. For now, Hadley’s happy to have Kellogg serve as a model for other Silver Valley communities that could make the right-of-way trail a focal point and pedestrian corridor.
Some of them, including Wallace, already have expressed interest, Hadley said.
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