In a press release this week (5/16) the Montana Office of Public Instruction announced that Superintendant Elsie Arntzen and the Land Board have approved two easements that are crucial to the eventual completion of the massive, multi-million dollar project.

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The Billings Inner Belt Loop will connect the Heights to the West End.

The goal of the new belt loop is to provide easier access for Heights traffic to reach Billings' northwest side. The road will run roughly where my high-tech red squiggle depicts in the picture above, connecting from Alkali Creek Road and ending at Zimmerman Trail. Skirting the north side of Billings Logan airport property then curving south on the west edge of the Rehberg Ranch subdivision.

Image provided by Montana Office of Public Instruction
Image provided by Montana Office of Public Instruction
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Easements were necessary to complete the project.

The new roadway will run through two parcels of State Land Trust property, marked by the blue boxes in the image above. Approval of the easement provides the City of Billings with the necessary 90 feet of access needed to build the highway. Arntzen said in the release,

I am very appreciative of the conversation between private landowners and government in moving this project forward. It is my honor to provide the best investment of Montana’s state trust lands that benefit our schools and our communities.

The project will be funded primarily through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant from the United States Department of Transportation that was awarded to the city of Billings in 2020 ($11.7 million). The City is contributing $7 million in local taxes for the project and Billings TrailNet has contributed $80,000. You can see the latest updates on the Inner Loop project HERE.

Credit: Montana Department of Transportation
Credit: Montana Department of Transportation
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Meanwhile, on the other side of town...

The Billings Bypass project is coming along nicely. MDOT's webcam shows the new bridge over the Yellowstone River is complete. As of now, it's a bridge to nowhere as the road on the north side of the river is not complete. Eventually, the multi-phase project will allow commuters to drive from the Johnson Lane Interchange in Lockwood, to the Highway 312/Highway 87 intersection in the Heights. You can learn more about that project HERE.

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