Our trip to Washington could bring huge rewards

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The city of Billings applied to the US Department of Transportation for a grant worth $25 million to build routes along the Marathon Loop plus the Inner Belt Loop with an adjacent trail to connect the Heights to northwest end.

Billings submitted the grant in July and winners will be announced in November. Decision makers in Washington are reviewing the hundreds of applications they have received from communities across the country.

Our community is not only competing with other US communities, there are many other communities in Montana vying for the money…

Many communities throughout Montana have received this grant; however, Billings and the eastern part of the state have not.

Our delegation is hoping that USDOT sees a great case in Billings, where ascending the rims by bike or on foot without potential conflict with traffic is challenging; and where we have a unique 26.2 mile loop around our city, which is 60% built.

The Marathon Loop will enable bike/ped access from the Heights to the valley and will connect neighborhoods in Billlings to a robust trail network. It will enable people to enjoy the views from our majestic rims, bike or run along our beautiful river and experience historic sites along the way.

Mayor Bill Cole, Planning and Community Services Director, Wyeth Friday, Big Sky Economic Development Director Steve Arveschoug, Dan Brooks from the Billings Chamber of Commerce and Kristi Drake from Billings TrailNet, will be meeting with the granting committee at the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC this Thursday, October 19, to discuss the merits of the project. We will also meet with  Senators Tester, Daines and Representative Gianforte.

We are extremely grateful to Billings TrailNet member, Tom Burtchaell, for taking pictures of riding in areas that are challenging for cyclists in Billings, and for Selby’s, for donating the prints we will bring to decision-makers in DC, who are unfamiliar with our unique landscape. We are grateful to Mayor Bill Cole, the Chamber of Commerce and Big Sky Economic Development for contributing their own resources to the success of this grant proposal. 

Photo courtesy of Tom Burtchaell

This is a community effort with so much positive momentum from so many individuals and businesses here, the good energy you all send along with us is very much appreciated!