Drake was part of the delegation, as were Mayor Bill Cole and officials from the Billings Chamber of Commerce and Big Sky Economic Development. They met with Montana’s two U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, and Congressman Greg Gianforte, who all supported the grant.
This year, Billings had the same support from its Montana lawmakers but city officials paired down its request to $16.8 million, enough to complete the Inner Belt Loop, the Skyline Trail and the Stagecoach Trail, a bike trail that will follow Zimmerman Trail, dropping down from Highway 3 to Rimrock Road.
Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the city the grant money for the Inner Belt Loop and Skyline Trail projects.
The Inner Belt Loop, a new road that would connect the Heights to Billings’ West End, will bring Wicks Lane overland to the Zimmerman Trail-Highway 3 intersection.
The goal of the Inner Belt Loop is to boost commercial and residential development in the Heights and reduce traffic along Main Street, particularly where it bottlenecks at MetraPark and Airport Road. It will also improve access to and from the area for public safety and emergency vehicles.