Changes made to the Montana Department of Transportation’s (MDT) plans for Yellowstone County indicate a very busy summer on Interstate 90 as it gets a new bridge, an additional lane, and resurfacing from the west -end interchange through Billings and Lockwood to the Pine Hills Interchange.
The changes also advanced, in a significant way, the priority of the proposed Billings Bypass.
Amendments to the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), for the first time, gave the Billings Bypass a place holder on the priority list of projects for Yellowstone County. Even though the project has been greatly discussed in a hypothetical way, “it now has a place in TIP. From this point forward until completed, we can track through the financial means, what it is costing, when it is funded, and the timing,” explained Scott Walker of the Planning Department in presenting to County Commissioners, the request to make amendments to the five-year planning document.
The TIP projects State (MDT) projects in the area, setting priorities in terms of funding and development.
The TIP amendments also moved up from 2021 to 2018 a preservation plan to resurface Interstate 90, while moving until later proposed projects for North 27th Street and Main Street. The 27th Street resurfacing project has been moved from 2018 to 2019, and the one for Main Street in the Heights have been moved from this year to 2020.
The I-90 project for this summer includes a plan to replace the bridge near Coulson Park, ($33 million) and in the process widen it to be able to provide for more lanes of traffic as they are needed in the future.
Added to the priority list for the Bypass were the phases for the bridge across the Yellowstone River and Five Mile Road to US 87. The bridge phase of the North Bypass has been moved forward to May of 2020. Previously it was slated beyond 2021, which was beyond the planning range of the TIP document.
The first phase of the North Bypass, of building Five Mile Road, just north of Mary Street, was already on the list. That project will begin this summer with projections to be completed sometime next summer.
Other pavement preservation resurfacing projects added to the list for the future included King Avenue E., South Frontage Road, Shiloh Road, Blue Creek Road, South Billings Boulevard and Hardin Road.
Roundabouts were added on the priority list at King Avenue and 56th Street and at Central and 56th Street.