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'An additional connection': Billings Inner Belt Loop road and trail set to open in June

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Posted at 6:02 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 20:02:11-04

BILLINGS — The Billings Inner Belt Loop project has been in the works for decades, with planning beginning before 2010. The project will connect the Heights to the West End, and the city said the road and adjoining pedestrian pathway will open in June.

“I’m going right up here and I’m going right down there, yeah, we’re going to do the loop,” said Executive Director of Billings TrailNet Kristi Drake at the start of the road on the West End.

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Billings TrailNet executive director Kristi Drake

As a lover of trails, Drake has waited patiently for years for the city to complete the Inner Belt Loop project.

“This is pretty historic because these are big things that are going to be part of our community that people are just going to take for granted in 10,15, 20 years. Of course it’s there, but we actually made it happen,” Drake said.

It's historic because residents from the Heights won't have to use Main Street to travel to the West End.

City engineer Mac Fogelsong said the project is funded by a Build Grant the city received in 2019.

“This segment of the project is about five miles long,” said Fogelsong.

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Running from the intersection of Highway 3 and Zimmerman Trail to Skyway Drive and Alkali Creek Road, it's a highway expected to reduce bumper-to-bumper traffic on Main Street, one of the state's busiest streets.

“One of the instances was back in 2010 or so, when we had kind of the tornado event in the Heights, it was a challenge. Main Street was one way in and out of the area. It helps for an additional connection for emergency services,” Fogelsong added.

He said the project is just about wrapped up except for a few details.

“Wrapping up with paving, and we have a lot of insidious things like fencing and gates and all kind of stuff,” said Fogelsong.

He's confident it will be completed in June so drivers and pedestrians will be able to use the loop in the summer.

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City engineer Mac Fogelsong

“So the other sneak preview here is we did some seeding last fall and some of the nice green grass with our recent weather is starting to grow up, so it looks pretty sharp,” Fogelsong said.

With 70 miles of trail already in the city, Drake said it's a step in the right direction.

“I think it really makes a statement for our community, that we are an outdoor and active community,” said Drake.

To find out more about the city's trails and upcoming outdoor events, visit Billings TrailNet. You can find out more about the Inner Belt Loop project here.