Green Light on TOPS Funding for Trails Projects

October 16, 2020

Earlier this week, the Bozeman City Commission voted to allocate the remaining $300,000 of Trails, Open Space, and Parks (TOP) Bond, $200,000 of which went to GVLT’s Front Street Connector and Westside Connector trails projects.

“As a community, this is something we can be really proud of,” said GVLT Trails Director Matt Parsons. “The community did an amazing job stewarding this funding, and area nonprofits like GVLT were able to leverage millions of dollars outside of the bond into these projects.”

The Front Street Connector trail project was approved for funding in 2015, but then sidelined due mainly to the reconstruction of Rouse Avenue. Once construction of the project – a ¼ mile paved pathway beginning at the intersection of Birch (Oak) Street and Rouse Ave. that includes a pedestrian bridge crossing Bozeman Creek – was resurrected, the cost and design had changed, and the necessity for completion was greater than ever.

The Commission agreed to allocate an additional $110,000 in funding to the project this week. GVLT has leveraged City cash-in-lieu of parkland funds, a state Recreation Trails Program (RTP) grant, funding from Collin’s Coalition and more to complete the Front Street Connector. Construction of the path may begin as early as the spring of 2021 with plans to complete the project by fall 2021.

“It will be an asphalt pathway suitable for bikes and wheelchairs, foot travel, and feature a bridge over Bozeman Creek,” Parsons said. “What’s cool about these two projects is that they are both part of a bigger vision to connect trail users east to west.” ­

The Westside Connector project is focused on establishing wayfinding throughout town. This includes working with the City’s Parks Department to rehabilitate existing trails, install “you are here” maps, totems, and kiosks, and create cleverly named and easy to follow primary routes.

“Once we’re finished, you’ll be able to take the “Red Raptor Route” from Bozeman High School to the “M,” or the “Gold Bobcat Route” from Bozeman Pond Park to MSU.”

GVLT and the City’s Parks Department will be exploring wayfinding options and seeking public input when the City embarks on an update of the 2007 Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails (PROST) Plan. City officials are targeting 2021 for completing the plan update.

The Westside Connector project will require minimum trail building but does include connecting a 5-mile westside loop trail and a route that will take trail users from the westernmost City limits all the way to the “M.” Completion of this project will occur in phases, and the GVLT trails team has already set about town installing some signage and mapping connecting trails.

The $15 million TOP Bond was established with taxpayer dollars in 2012, and it has taken eight years to fully allocate funding. The bond helped fund seven total projects in Bozeman, including GVLT’s enhancement at Bozeman Pond Park and the Path to the M. The TOP Bond also funded Story Mill Park, the Bozeman Sports Complex, and the Bogart Park Bozeman Creek Enhancement project.

“Every singe dollar went to trails or parks,” Parsons said. “It shows how important trails and open space are to this community.”