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Billings Bypass expected to open in 2025, open house update scheduled for Tuesday

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Posted at 7:00 PM, May 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 13:15:47-04

BILLINGS - Crews have reached another milestone on the $127 million Billings Bypass project.

Once complete, the roughly 5-1/2 mile long bypass will connect Interstate 90 in Lockwood to Highway 312 in the Billings Heights and include new bridges.

Construction started in March on phase 3, the Railroad Overpass, a bridge over the railroad tracks and Coulson Road.

“This project's going pretty smooth this year,” said James Stevenson, Montana Department of Transportation engineering project manager. “We started with the construction of the embankment and started constructing the intermittent piers for the new bridge that's going to go over Coulson Road and the railroad tracks.”

The bridge is expected to be finished in July of 2025, and the Billings Bypass will be ready to open.

“So when this phase (3) is done here, then it'll be open to the traveling public, ” Stevenson said. “And they'll be able to access the bypass, go up to Five Mile Road or onto Mary Street and kind of getting a sense of what it's going to look like.”

The bypass is a six-phase project and can open with the first three phases.

Work on phase 1, Five Mile Road, and phase 2, the Yellowstone River Bridge started in 2019 and have already been completed.

“It's a really important project,” said Lisa Olmsted, engineering project communications manager for DOWL Engineering, the company that designed the project.

She says the Billings Bypass will ultimately bring more than convenience and a quicker route.

“Imagine if you need an ambulance in the north end of the Heights or if you have a job in Lockwood, work in the Heights,” Olmsted said. “So there's a lot of safety functionality for the connection, economic functionality, just general traveling functionalities.”

Construction has not started on phases 4, 5, and 6, the Johnson Lane interchange, the road from the interchange to the railroad overpass bridge, and a new road north of Mary Street.

“It's really hard to see this shiny new bridge sitting unused,” Olmsted said about the Yellowstone River Bridge. "We're really excited to open it to the public.

Stevenson says with no traffic while working and starting from scratch, it’s been an enjoyable project.

‘This is a milestone that most of my crew probably won't see in their career any other time,” Stevenson said. “Building a new alignment where there's not one been previous and having a project that lasts this long in the different phases, it's quite a feat."

You can learn more about the project and get an update on Tuesday night.

The Department of Transportation is hosting an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. at Eileen Johnson Middle School in Lockwood.