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Zinke seeks $50 million for infrastructure projects in western Montana

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U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke asked the House Appropriations Committee on Friday to approve nearly $50 million for 15 infrastructure projects in western Montana, including one in Flathead County, one in Lake County, and two in Lincoln County.

The goal of the projects, according to Zinke’s office, is to support transportation and infrastructure, water systems and law enforcement equipment. The projects extend to 10 counties. 

“Rural Montana’s infrastructure and public service needs are different than those of Miami or Phoenix, and taking advantage of my position on the Appropriations Committee allows me to make sure our tax dollars are spent on projects that support our taxpayers,” said Zinke in a statement. 

Zinke, a Republican, is asking for $1,936,170 to add or replace guardrails on North Fork Road in Flathead County. Zinke’s office described the road as providing crucial access to year-round recreational activities and timber industry operations as well as to Glacier National Park. The road’s existing guardrail has surpassed its service life, according to Zinke’s office. 

The project, if approved, would update 3.71 miles of roadway. 

In Lake County, the congressman is requesting $1,604,500 for the creation of a new invasive species inspection station in place of a current station in Ravalli. The existing station, under the management of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, is the only station to operate 24 hours, 7 days a week during boating season, and yet lacks permanent infrastructure and weather protection, according to Zinke. 

Officials in Lincoln County are hoping to expand and update the Troy Airport, with $820,319 requested to repair the runway. Zinke also requested $1,500,000 to turn the Troy branch of the Lincoln County Library into the Troy Library and Opportunity Center, with facility upgrades. 

Lake and Lincoln Counties also were two of five counties awarded money for enhancing local law enforcement. The first grouped request, including Beaverhead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral and Sanders counties, asks for just over $2 million to promote equipment continuity, including patrol vehicles, body scanners, radios and vests. 

The second portion, totalling $322,000, would give law enforcement capabilities to those same five counties, if awarded.

The requests were made through the U.S. House of Representatives Community Funding requests, which allows Congress to direct appropriations from specific grant accounts to eligible projects. Projects must be approved by the House Appropriations Committee, the full House of Representatives and be included in the joint funding package signed by the president. 

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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