A unique mountain bike trail between Idaho and Montana is on the road toward improvement with President Clinton’s signature on the Interior appropriations bill.
The bill includes $750,000 earmarked for the old “Route of the Hiawatha” train route. The rails burrow underground for 1.8 miles through the Taft or St. Paul Tunnel and cross high trestles.
With the money, the Forest Service will continue improvements to the trail, which will boost the local economy by drawing mountain bikers.
It has been estimated that improved drainage and repairs to the tunnel’s crumbling concrete casing will cost more than $1 million.
The Forest Service has worked with the Wallace-based Taft Tunnel Preservation Society on the project. Panhandle National Forests Supervisor Dave Wright said the onus is now on the grass-roots organization to find more sources of revenue.
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