The City County Planning Department is submitting an application to the Federal Highway Department in the hopes of getting a $25 million grant to help fund the building of the Inner Belt Loop road in the Heights and to complete the system of bike trails that encompass the City of Billings.
If they should get the grant, called the “2019 BUILD Grant”, portions of the project could begin construction as soon as, 2020 or 2021 at the latest, according to Wyeth Friday, who heads the Planning Department. Friday made presentations to the Billings City Council and the Board of County Commissioners this week to get letters of support for the application. They will also be seeking support from Montana’s Congressional delegation.
The $25 million cost of the project that is detailed in the application includes $7 million as matching dollars from the City of Billings. The application is complex, said Friday, and they are using a consultant to help put it together, especially in regard to determining a cost/benefit analysis.
Notice as to whether they win the grant will be announced by the end of the year.
Most of the project and hence most of the cost – about $14 million – is focused on building the Inner Belt Loop, design for which is about 90 percent complete. It would probably be the first portion of the project to be built.
The bike/pedestrian trails that are included in the project are portions of the 26-mile Marathon Loop Trail that has long been in the planning to encircle Billings. Once those sections are built the route will be completed; they include Stage Coach Trail, a portion of Skyline Trail, Garden/Sugar Trail and Zoo to Riverfront.
The trails are in various stages of development, and some must still obtain right-of-ways, said Friday.