East Helena to use RAISE grant to reconstruct Valley Drive

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Posted at 4:58 PM, Jun 21, 2024

HELENA — East Helena is now a recipient of a RAISE grant, a federal grant that will help keep kids safe to and from school, as well as help bolster the growing community.

“Well, today I’m proud to announce that East Helena will be officially getting that RAISE grant,” said Democrat U.S. Senator Jon Tester during his press conference Friday.

The RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant program through the US Dept of Transportation, is meant to create necessary infrastructure in rural and urban areas.

East Helena will receive a little over $10 million which will go towards widening Valley Drive, likely creating a walking path, bike lane, curb gutters, storm drains, and better crosswalks.

Dan Rispens, Superintendent of East Helena Public Schools, said this is an exciting day for East Helena after hearing the news of the approved grant at Tester’s press conference Friday morning, especially with four schools in close proximity to the project area.

“When you consider we have 2000 kids, almost, going to school every day and parents coming and going and oftentimes having to go to multiple school campuses, improving that thoroughfare to make it safer for kids and parents,” says Rispens.

East Helena is a rapidly growing community, with Habitat for Humanity investing in a project aimed at bringing more than 1500 new homes to the area. To accommodate the increasing population, infrastructure projects like this are vital says Jacob Kuntz, Executive Director of Helena Area Habitat for Humanity.

“It’s got an amazing history, an amazing population that live here. And it’s going to be one of the fastest-growing communities in the state. And so, the federal government investing in East Helena, saying that small communities need to be able to scale property, properly so we can meet the needs for affordable homes is going to make all the difference in the world,” says Kuntz.