With three recent donations, the plan to move a bridge from Joliet to downtown Billings has moved closer to fruition.
Darlene Tussing, alternative transportation modes coordinator for the city of Billings, said the plan to move a Carnegie steel bridge from Joliet to downtown Billings is estimated to cost $578,300. The bridge would span the Montana Rail Link tracks at 25th Street so walkers and bicyclists could cross safely between downtown and the South Side. She hopes the bridge can connect with the Billings BikeNet system of trails.
The grants of $5,000 each came from the Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation of Sheridan, Wyo; The Billings Gazette; and the Lee Enterprises Foundation. Lee Enterprises, based in Davenport, Iowa, owns The Gazette.
The $15,000 is the first step in meeting the $578,300 cost of moving the bridge, Tussing said.
High Plains Architects has developed a master plan for the bridge project and envision elevators and stairways at both ends of the bridge, as well as metal-based art and a sculpture garden to decorate the bridge and make it a tourist attraction.
In addition to connecting the BikeNet trails to downtown Billings, the bridge also would allow downtown workers to park on the South Side and walk over the tracks, Tussing said.
The BikeNet ends at Coulson Park near the Interstate 90 bridge over the Yellowstone River, Tussing said. She said the BikeNet group is in negotiations with landowners to gain BikeNet rights.
Tussing said more grants are being written. She said there is no timetable for the projects completion.