Two Options Explored for 27th Street Railroad Crossing in Billings
A public hearing recently gathered public input on proposals to deal with traffic conflicts at the railroad crossing on 27th Street. The Montana Department of Transportation, working with several consultants including HDR and DOWL engineering firms, is doing a feasibility study to identify the most viable of short term and long term solutions.
Short term solutions involve making improvements to the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) which can give drivers advance information about what is happening at the railroad crossing.
Long term involves building one of two possible grade separations on 27th Street as it crosses the railroad tracks. One option is to build a two-lane overpass over the railroad tracks and above S. 27th Street and the other is to build a two-lane tunnel as part of 27th Street that would go under the railroad tracks. The idea of both options is to maintain connectivity to downtown, said Tim Erickson with HDR. “We are avoiding impacts as much as possible,” said Erickson, “So far there are no impacts on existing buildings on 27th Street.”
Both projects would each take about two years to build, however, while the overpass could keep streets open most of the time, the underpass would require closing streets in the project area most of the time.
Building an overpass would cost between $35 million and $40 million, about half the cost of a tunnel at $80 million. Funding would come from the federal funds the state receives annually for priority projects on its Five Year Plan. So far, the 27th Street Project is not on that priority list.
The preferred alternative will be announced in 2020-21 and a preliminary design would be available later in the summer.