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MDT considering options to ease congestion at one of Montana's busiest railroad crossings

A railroad crossing sign
Andrew McKeough/Getty Images/iStockphoto
A railroad crossing sign

The continued growth of Billings, along with increased railroad traffic has made a downtown railroad crossing to a top priority for the Montana Department of Transportation.

The 27th Street railroad crossing in Billings is one of the busiest in the state, according to the MDT. It stretches through downtown, where trains cause traffic congestion several times a day. MDT is evaluating potential improvements to the crossing.

Tim Erickson is the transportation manager for HDR Engineering.
He says they are looking for both short- and long-term solutions.

Long-term alternatives include options like an overpass where the road itself would go over the tracks, or an underpass or a tunnel where the road would go under the tracks. Those long-term solutions could range in cost from $40 million to $100 million.

Erickson says short-term solutions would lower that amount to possibly under $1 million.

"So, utilizing technology to help with either advanced warnings or improvements to signals and timing to, you know, maybe give motorists a better idea of, you know, the crossing is about to be blocked, potentially use another route," Erickson said.

If a project is implemented in the future, the money would come from the Montana Department of Transportation, which is primarily funded by the federal government.

MDT will host an in-person public meeting about potential solutions on Monday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. the Billings Public Library.

A live online Zoom meeting is Thursday, Dec. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can register in advance here.

Orlinda Worthington hosts “Morning Edition” weekdays on YPR. She brings 20 years of experience as Montana television news anchor, producer, and reporter.