WHITEFISH — A project that’s been in the works in Whitefish since 2005 is officially finished and ready for public use.
“It’s absolutely a milestone project and the city couldn’t be more proud to have it completed,” City of Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman told MTN News.
Sitting at 120 feet long, 20 feet wide and 10 feet tall, the Baker Avenue Underpass is a pedestrian corridor giving residents and visitors a safe and effective way to cross from one side of town to the other.
“It creates a significant and important connection between downtown Whitefish on the eastside of the underpass to the railway district and the businesses and residents on the westside of Baker Avenue,” said Workman.
He added the underpass fits perfectly with the cities pedestrian-friendly services and visitor-driven economy.
“The Baker Avenue Underpass is just one more example of the things that the city and the community have been doing to make downtown Whitefish so successful and such a landmark,” said Workman.
The underpass will be open 24 hours a day with 38 synchronized LED lights turned on at night.
Baker Avenue Underpass Project Manager Stephanie Reynolds is excited for the public to use its service.
“You know this is such an important connection piece for Whitefish, it links the east and west side and the north and south sides of town and so it really feels good to get it open for use,” said Reynolds.
Whitefish visitor R.W. Cline loves the safe, easy access to downtown the underpass provides.
“We just commented this morning, it took the stress out of knowing we had to cross the street to get downtown so it greatly reduced the stress and a lot safer and it’s super nice,” said Cline.
Workman said the project was fully funded through tax increment finance funds set aside by the city, adding the project stayed on budget at $1.7 million.
“Being able to use TIFF funds means that it didn’t hit the general fund, it didn’t result in any taxes being levied for the project,” explained Workman. “I expect the Baker Avenue Underpass to be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Workman says artwork will be installed by local artists on the walls of the underpass beginning this fall.