Once upon a time the railroad going through Billings was an essential part of its survival. People traveled the rails and businesses depended on it for supplies. The railroad is still a very essential part of the Billings economy, but the times of whistle stops and local needs have changed. Which brings me to my point, why do we still have a track that goes right through Billings downtown on 27th Street? For that matter, why do we have to stop and wait for trains to pass? There should be a solution to this.

Credit: Mike Sutton

The Billings 27th Street railroad crossing causes multiple problems. I know that the solution would be expensive. I know it would take a great deal of thought and planning to execute a change. That is the way that these things happen, we get change by asking why. Why has a tunnel or an overpass not been constructed? Why has it stayed the same after all the change around it?

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There have been studies done. In December of 2020 KTVQ reported the release of a study into the solution to this problem.  The concerns are pedestrian safety, congestion of traffic in the downtown area, and ease of travel to and from Interstate 90.  Both a tunnel and an overpass were suggested as solutions.  Cost?  The tunnel came in at $85 million and the overpass at $40 Million.

I prefer the idea of a tunnel. It is more expensive, but not only would it solve the problems listed above, but the sounds of railroad traffic would also be lessened.  I am also certain that it would help downtown businesses to the north and south of the tracks to develop and grow.  It would also make downtown Billings residential properties more appealing. Hopefully, the studies will turn into action soon. Billings is getting busier and busier.  Soon a problem becomes a crisis.

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