Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 Trail Rider Schedule Announced!


May 30th, 2014

The Helena Business Improvement District (BID), The Helena Tourism Alliance/Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), Bike Helena and the Helena Area Transit System (HATS) have teamed up to for an exciting 2014 hiking and biking season with the NEW, expanded Trail Rider schedule. The Trail Rider will kick-off the season offering hikers and bikers a shuttle service that now runs FIVE days a week!  Areas that will be serviced are:  Mount Helena Ridge Trail, Davis Gulch/Old Shooting Range Trailhead, Eddye McClure Trail and MacDonald Pass. 

Beginning Wednesday, June 4th the Trail Rider will run five days a week for June, July and August and on Saturday andSunday during September.  The weeknight Trail Rider routes make it convenient for people who want to ride or hike and then partake in one of the many popular weeknight events in Downtown Helena.  In total, the Trail Rider will operate 85 days and 17 weekends, including Labor Day weekend, and features a trailer to accommodate up to 30 bikes.  Thanks to the 30 plus local businesses that sponsor the Trail Rider, the cost to ride is FREE!

Please visit  or  for a detailed schedule of Trail Rider Service."

For additional information, please contact:

Pat Doyle, Community Outreach Director                                   Tracy Reich, Executive Director
Helena Tourism Alliance/TBID/Bike Helena                                Helena Business Improvement District

Friday, May 23, 2014

Important decisions for safe, accessible walking and biking infrastructure made last Wednesday at the Helena City Commission

This image is taken from the Centennial Trail Mast Plan. The initial route shown above as "Phase 3 Shared Use Path and Crossings" in orange and blue was planned assuming yet to be seen subdivision development, acquisition of railroad right-of-way, and additional funds. The alternative endorsed by the City Commission last Wednesday will capitalize on existing right-of-way, planned improvement to the Leslie/Joslyn/Country Club Intersection, and partnerships with entities to the west. 

Last Wednesday, the Helena City Commission direct staff to apply remaining CTEP funds to a pedestrian crossing at Roberts ($30,000), a crossing near CR Anderson Middle School ($25,000), and towards continuing Centennial Trail West ($400,000+) to provide a safe ADA, biking and walking connection from the Westside of Helena to Spring Meadow State Park. The new route for Centennial Trail West will utilize existing right-of-way along Joslyn ("A."), a trail along the mostly undeveloped platted section of Leslie Street ("B." or "B.-F."), and West to park along Country Club with a separated asphalt path or sidewalk depending on available right-of-way, utility easements, and water drainage. 

A safe connection for children, families, and commuters is long overdue in this area. The City Commission should continue to develop the remaining areas of the trail, especially a ADA/Bike/Pedestrian bridge across Henderson Street and a safe crossing at Benton. 

An alternative route exploring a connection of area "F." and "C." to connect to the park should also be explored.  

More details from a related post linked here.


- Matt E

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Service now Available in Greater Helena!!

Update from Les Clark:


Capitol Taxi has begun providing rides with wheelchair lift-equipped vans in the Helena area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!! One of the first riders was able to go to the Diamond Rio concert without her parents and get her wheelchair autographed!

Folks with mobility challenges in Helena can now get to events, medical appointments, shopping and visiting the kids without the hassle of driving a vehicle or asking for a ride for just the cost of a taxi ride! Any time, any day!

Capitol Taxi can be reached at (406) 449-5525, 24 hours a day including holidays.
This service is part of a demonstration project developed through the collaborative efforts of the Montana Independent Living Project (MILP), Helena Area Transportation Service (HATS) and Capitol Taxi to expand public transportation options for individuals with mobility challenges.

Until June 30th, 2014, HATS, when unable to schedule individuals requesting curb to curb service with a satisfactory ride time, will refer them to MILP’s Mobility Manager (Les Clark).  The Mobility Manager will offer financial assistance for a taxi ride through a Premium Ride Voucher program, lowering the cost to $3 per ride.
For those requesting accessible taxi services during the times that HATS is not operating (holidays, weekends and afterhours) financial assistance is also available.  Please contact Montana Independent Living Project’s Mobility Manager, Les Clark at (406) 438-3019 during the hours of 9 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, for Premium Ride Vouchers that will lower the per ride cost to $3.

The vans have been checked out, the drivers trained and the vouchers printed.  For more information read and print out our attachment titled “How The Accessible Taxi Voucher Option Works” [pictured below, click to enlarge].

Les Clark
MILP/ Helena
Independent Living Specialist
825 Great Northern Bvld. Suite 105
Helena, MT. 59601

“Promoting Independence for People with Disabilities”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fund Centennial Trail West!


Centennial Trail has long been a priority of the City of Helena.  Recent revelations about available right-of-way for trail construction have the potential to defund the Western part of the trail. Your City Commission will have to decide whether or not to pursue the trail this Wednesday at 4pm. I hope to find support for the following proposal to utilize soon to expire funds for this essential trail.


- Matt E

Mayor, Commissioners,

I strongly urge dedicating the remaining pool of City and County Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP) funds to Centennial Trail West.  Centennial Trail has long been the focus of the City Commission and our Non-Motorized Transit Advisory Council. Centennial Trail West will provide greatly needed safe, accessible bike and pedestrian routes from Centennial Park through neighborhoods, schools, parks and residential areas.

Based on our many discussions this year and notes in the staff memo prepared for our May 14th administrative meeting, I recommend we dedicate the remaining City and County CTEP funds to a broad scope from Benton or Henderson through the Leslie/Joslyn/Country Club Intersection to and beyond Spring Meadow State Park. All potential routes should be included to ensure finding the best feasible route with available right-of-way in the coming year.

It is clear that only our strong direction will realize this unique funding opportunity to complete essential components of Centennial Trail with the last remaining CTEP funds. 

Additional material follows.

Thank you very much!


- Matt E

Matthew A. Elsaesser, Commissioner
City of Helena, Montana, USA
316 N Park Ave 59623
cell: 406.431.0815


Why not dedicate the funds in Centennial Trails East (“Phase 1”)?

The million dollars of CTEP currently dedicated for this section of the trail should complete most, if not all of the shared use paths for this section. Sidewalks and bike lanes or bike boulevards for the East section should be addressed by other City funds and Commission action.

Potential (Added) Alternative to include in Scope of Centennial Trail West: 

*Henderson Bridge *Improvements at Joslyn/Leslie/Country Club Intersection
*Trail from Centennial Park to Benton *Benton Crossing *Bike Boulevard or other improvements on Leslie from Henderson to Joslyn *Improvements along existing rail easement from Benton to Joslyn *Connection to Spring Meadow along Country Club or platted Leslie Street *Continued trail West with potential partners such as Green Meadows Country Club, Archie Bray, VA, Fort Harrison, Prickly Pear Land Trust, and others…

Alternative Connections from Josyln Street West:
[Click either image to enlarge]

Exhibit Submitted to Railroad January 2014
Existing Trail Shown in Yellow

Support Recycling in Helena!! Public meeting this Wednesday, Tomorrow!!


Please show your support for Recycling tomorrow, Wednesday May 14th! A public meeting will be held by the consultant hired by the City of Helena and Lewis & Clark County Scratch Gravel Landfill District to evaluate solid waste and recycling services in the Helena area. As I wrote last fall and in the following links, the City of Helena and the Helena Valley are at a critical juncture. Decisions made by your elected City and County officials in the next couple months will determine the future of recycling in this community for years to come.

The meeting, hosted by Blue Ridge Services, is this Wednesday at 6pm in room 326 in the City County Building at 316 N Park.

If you cannot attend, please take a moment to let your Mayor and Commission know that you support Recycling. 

Thank you very much!


Matt E

Matthew A. Elsaesser, Commissioner
City of Helena, Montana, USA

I distributed the following (image right) memo to my peers on the Helena City Commission last week in preparation for our budget meeting held yesterday. The final budget work session for fiscal year 2015 will be June 2, 2014 at 3pm[details here]. Results from the efficiency study of the City and County solid waste and recycling systems will be unveiled and addressed throughout the Summer and Fall of this year. 

Mayor, Commissioner,

There are many opportunities for efficiency and increased services for waste collection and recycling at the City of Helena Transfer Station within the residential collection utility, and working with the Lewis & Clark County Landfill. A few things:

Attachment A
History: This community voted for an Integrated Solid Waste Management System that would include and encourage recycling. Recycling services have and are currently funded by tipping fees at the Transfer Station, though some fees now vary for some customers.
Attachment(s): _A [image right], D [linked here]___

Costs: Based on staff numbers provided last fall, recycling costs $25 per ton, while trash cost $75 per ton. City of Helena Transfer Station Recycling is supported by assessments on residents in the L & C Scratch Gravel Landfill District (and included East Helena until recently). City residents are paying more for the old landfill than they are for recycling. Attachment(s): E [Images right, linked here]

Transfer Station Capital: The $1,000,000+ capital plans for storing garbage trucks, collecting construction debris into the pit, and managing trash compaction should stay on hold until conclusion of the study. These funds should be invested in diverting construction and demolition waste (C&D) for use as soft fill, recycling market (e.g. gypsum), or the C & D area of the landfill. [a related post here]

De-Coupling: The City’s solid waste and collection operations should be recognized as a tax funded service independent of tonnage (attachment E, shown & linked above). Unused self-haul tonnage by resident (City and County) should be a point system that can account for additional process cost for electronic and household hazardous wastes.

Curbside Recycling: Seventy thousand dollars from FY 2014 per the increased assessment in Residential Solid Waste and Recycling approved last year by the Commission should be designated for recycling. Fiscal Year 2015 funding should recognize this same allocation and fund designated for the blue bag program. These funds may be used support a basic curbside option (e.g. blue bag program with own bins and corrugated cardboard collection), a partnership to encourage glass collection by private parties, or other options that should include RFP’s and annual or semi-annual review.

I have also attached my budget memo from June 2013. Following today’s discussion, I will request more formal amendments our final budget meeting.


- Matt E..

Matthew A. Elsaesser, Commissioner
City of Helena, Montana, USA
316 N Park, Helena, 59623



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Public Meeting of Solid Waste (and Recycling!) this Wednesday at 6pm

Public meeting this Wednesday at 6p.m. in room 326 at the City County Building at 316 N Park in Downtown Helena. Details follow:
[image from email sent to City of Helena staff from managers office 5/9/14]