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Snow is hauled away

Snow is hauled away from Fourth Avenue North in this 2010 file photo. The city's Capital Improvement Plan includes $900,000 to construct a portable snow-melting facility to make hauling snow more efficient. 

A draft Billings Capital Improvement Plan shows how more than $203 million will be spent on projects during the coming five fiscal years beginning with 2018-19.

The plan ranges from traditional street maintenance programs to cutting-edge science.

Not all the cost will be the responsibility of local taxpayers. For example, 90 percent of the nearly $50 million expansion of the terminal building at Billings Logan International Airport will be covered under the federal Airport Improvement Program.

The Billings City Council will consider the updated plan during a March 2018 meeting. Each year the council approves a revised five-year plan, occasionally putting projects off and moving others up in response to an emergency, a community need or a new requirement brought on by changes to federal or state laws.

Deputy Public Works Director Vern Heisler is accepting public comments at

Capital plans among three city departments — Airport (about $87 million), Public Works (about $66 million) and Facilities Management (about $27 million) — make up about 89 percent of the planned spending.

Billings Logan International Airport, 2013

Expanding and modernizing the terminal at Billings Logan International Airport is part of the city's five-year Capital Improvement Plan. City staff seeks public comment on the plan before it's approved by the city council in March 2018.

Here’s a sketch of some of the other planned capital improvement projects:

  • Airport — A third baggage claim belt will be added in 2020-21, at a cost of $1 million. The next year, another $1 million will be spent to relocate revolving door 2 to open up the area in front of passenger screening to allow for a better flow of passengers in front of the ticket counters.
  • Facilities Management — In two phases through 2020-21, the city plans to spend about $27 million to construct a 67,000 square foot facility to consolidate locations of many downtown departments.
  • Fire/911 Communication Center — A fire station staffing study now underway could lead to the relocation of station 5, at 605 S. 24th St. West, and the construction of the new fire station 8 at an unspecified location. Those costs are pegged at around $4.2 million. In 2021-22, a $1.5 million regional training center is planned to enhance and expand the existing training facilities near the airport.
  • MET Transit — $650,000 will be spent on roof replacements, exterior lighting upgrades and bus wash improvements.
  • Parking — $60,000 will go toward a structural review of all city-owned parking facilities to determine their condition and recommend repairs, if needed. Gate control equipment at Park I, II and III will be upgraded, at a cost of about $540,000.
  • Planning — About $1.5 million will be spent during 2019-20 to build a trail in Riverfront Park and a connection to a trail in Mystic Park. Another $750,000 will be spent the following year on a downtown-to-Coulson Park trail connection. During 2018-19, an almost $779,000 project will include a trail along the top of the Rims, improved parking off Highway 3 and stormwater management along the Rim tops in the corridor. A $3.2 million project, slated for 2018-19, will construct a mile-long shared-use 8-feet-wide pathway that will run along the east side of Zimmerman Trail from Rimrock Road to Highway 3.
  • Police — While the department has no specific projects in the plan, staff said police want to reserve a place in the draft CIP to expand the department's evidence facility or acquire a new one. The cost is yet to be determined.
  • Parks, Recreation and Public Lands — Tennis and basketball courts at North and South parks will be resurfaced. A $920,000 category for road and parking lot improvements includes evaluating whether the Black Otter Trail at Swords Rimrock Park should be repaired or replaced. The nearly $1.9 million Rose Pool bath house renovation is set for the current fiscal year, while $1.2 million for Hawthorne Park aquatics, as well as $1.5 million for renovating the South Park bath house, are planned for 2021-22.
  • Public Works — The city’s largest department has a number of big-ticket and innovative capital projects planned. Among them are the $14 million second phase of the Inner Belt Loop, a new road that will connect Alkali Creek Road and Highway 3; about $14.6 million for crack sealing, overlay and chip seals of various city streets; about $3.5 million to reconstruct the intersections of Monad Road and 19th and 20th Streets West; $3.5 million on a pedestrian overpass on Main Street; $17 million to reconfigure the landfill for a drop-off and maintenance building; and $900,000 for a snow-melting facility to melt some of the snow hauled from city streets. The unit will be based at or near the wastewater treatment plant and will use biogas produced from the plant as fuel. The unit will be mobile, so it can be used in other areas as needed using conventional fuels.


City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.