Guest opinion: No benefit to Heights Billings bypass

2014-04-28T00:00:00Z Guest opinion: No benefit to Heights Billings bypassBy CLAYTON FISCUS The Billings Gazette
April 28, 2014 12:00 am  • 

What's happening? The Billings bypass, as presented at the Bitterroot School, is not a bypass at all. It bypasses nothing.

Everyone walking out of the school were shaking their heads in disbelief at the senseless explanation and destruction to the area.

The so called bypass goes right through the heart of Mary Street and the Bench residential neighborhood and in front of 300 Main Street business front doors and their 3000 employees.

There was no transparency; there was no public notice of quitting the old plan; no loss or injury consequences on the residential area and park, or cost analysis.

It was a “down your throat” presentation with no regard of the homes destroyed and lifestyle of the folks in the Heights. Old plans scrapped. Why? Not for lack of money. We see millions spent elsewhere. Who scrapped the real 20-year-old plan, which would have used a route that avoided buildup areas of Billings? Your answer; follow the money, special interests and no local planning policy.

The proposed plan destroys a 100-acre nature park with Native American history overlooking the Yellowstone River with a planned I-90 I-94 truck route right through the middle. The proposed bypass plan destroys the 2 1/2 mile long Mary Street; a 105-year-old residential and peaceful neighborhood. All approved by the commissioners and City Council. Mary Street, is a 35 mph street no wider than your double garage, with a no passing line and regular school bus stops. Destroying Mary street is senseless. Mary Street and Yellowstone River Road join Highway 312, Main Street, and the Roundup Road; already major truck and car routes.

Highway 312, recently rebuilt, is a truck and car transportation route with, four lanes plus a turning lane for 2 1/2 miles. This is the same length and adjacent to Mary Street north boundary area. It clearly negates the need for a $15-$20 million semi-truck route through Mary Street. What is the result of scrapping the real bypass and using Mary Street and the park for a bypass route? Loss of economic, commercial, and residential construction growth in the Heights that would follow construction of an interchange with room for commercial development. (Look at the development between South 27th and ZooMontana exits.)

The proposed plan creates transportation issues like semi-truck traffic at stop lights; congestion on the 300 businesses on Main Street; with the 3,000 people that go to work every day. It will also affect each of the 40,000 Billings Heights people who live, work, and play in the Heights.

The fastest growing area in Montana will not have a chance for another bypass for the next 20 years. The attitude of the presenters, at the high-dollar presentation, was: Heights, grab your life jackets! We are throwing you overboard! Tell me where I'm wrong.

Clayton Fiscus, R-Billings, represents House District 43 in the east end of the Heights.

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