Flathead Beacon | 1/3/2019 | Justin Franz

The ribbon was cut, the golden spikes were hammered and the finishing touches were made on the new Glacier Rail Park in Evergreen, but officials say freight trains will still be rolling through downtown Kalispell well into the new year.

Although a grand opening event was held at the rail park in October, builders still had a few more projects to complete, including installing signage and finishing up the lift station, Montana West Economic Development (MWED) President and CEO Jerry Meerkatz said. Flathead County Economic Development Authority, managed by MWED, was expected to formally take over the 44-acre rail park from contractors in late December.

The Glacier Rail Park was the result of years of planning and millions in federal funding, all part of an elaborate plan to remove two miles of rail line through downtown Kalispell and replace it with a walking trail. Public officials say the Rail Park and trail have the chance to “transform” the community. The first two residents of the industrial park along Whitefish Stage Road will be CHS Kalispell and Northwest Drywall, the final two businesses that still use the rail line in downtown.

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