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Innovative Approach Boosts Kalispell’s Economic Development, Recreational Assets

Washington, DC (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — KLJ Engineering (KLJ) of Kalispell, Mont., has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 53rd annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for designing Glacier Rail Park in Kalispell.

The project was one of four KLJ projects honored during the Virtual EEA Gala held in December.

As Kalispell has evolved over the past century, the railroad tracks that supported the city’s early economic development had become an impediment to its growth. The tracks inhibited commercial and residential development and caused congestion, contributing to inefficient traffic flow. KLJ worked closely with the BNSF railway to design a new 40-acre rail-served industrial park while also helping the Flathead County Economic Development Authority purchase BNSF property to create a new community pedestrian/cycling trail.

“Projects we work on can range from straightforward to extremely complex and it is an honor to work on, and be recognized for, an impactful project such as this, said Greg Clum, KLJ chief commercial officer. “The ability to improve the lives of people and communities by engineering progressive infrastructure is our mission, and a project like this is exactly why we are here.”

Along with improving service and accessibility to Kalispell’s rail-served businesses, the new park has reduced truck traffic on Kalispell’s narrower downtown streets. The new multi-use path will make the area a safer place to live, shop, and work, and provide connections to existing rails-to-trails to Flathead Lake, the community of Kila, and the commercial area in the north part of Kalispell. Using a complete street strategy, a redesigned roadway adjacent to the path will add a north-south route and help spur downtown redevelopment.

The project was part of a record 203 entries to the 2020 EEA competition representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program—known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry”– took place in February and was conducted by a national 35-member panel of built environment leaders, along with experts from government, the media and academia.

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry, representing more than 5,200 independent engineering firms and more than 600,000 professionals throughout the United States engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, along with environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities. Founded in 1906 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 52 state and regional organizations.