BILLINGS, Mont. - Construction of the Billings Inner Belt Loop is scheduled to start in the spring of 2023, according to Public Works Director Debi Meling. Meling said it may be finished as soon as fall 2023, although it could take up to 1 1/2 years to complete.
Meling said the Belt Loop will be six miles of new road designed to better connect the city from the Heights to the West End. She said it will also provide a development corridor for the city
"This gives another development corridor that we could construct along and more housing and that kind of thing, which of course, we're always looking for additional housing locations," she said.
Meling said the city obtained a BUILD Grant to help with the cost of the project.
"Of this project, about $7 million is coming from the federal government, which is a combination of the Inner Belt Loop and the Skyline Trail (which is a three-mile trail that connects the roundabouts on Highway 3). Then, we have about $7 1/2 million of city funds that are going to this Inner Belt Loop Project as well."
She added they have already chosen a contractor for the project. And the project came in under budget.
Meling said one of the challenges is the terrain:
"The geography of the area is difficult. There are a lot of gullies up there and a lot of pretty extreme terrain changes. A lot of rock. So, the cuts and fills we have to do on this project and the way to be able to construct a road that would be easy to drive; it won't be 8% grade where you can't get up it in the winter."
"The next big challenge we have to figure out with this is utilities," she continued. "Obviously, you can't build a subdivision with just a road. You also need to have water and sewer and that sort of infrastructure. So, that's going to be the hard thing is figuring out how to provide that infrastructure."
The project will create several miles of new trail for pedestrians as well.
"This entire project will construct about eight miles of trail," Meling said. "So, the trail along Skyway Drive, which will be the entire inner belt loop. So that will connect Wicks Lane, which has a trail on it as well. All the way down to the roundabout at Highway 3. Then, Skyline Trail will go from Highway 3 roundabout at Zimmerman over to the 27th roundabout."