I-90 interchange officials prepare to meet Transportation Commission


BELGRADE, Mont. - On Tuesday afternoon officials from Gallatin County, the city of Belgrade, the airport and and the Montana Department of Transportation came together to hammer out the final funding plans for the proposed airport interchange.

The meeting is the last one before pitching the $37.2 million project to the Transportation Commission Thursday.

"The highway commission is the ultimate deciding body that is going to be giving essentially the approval moving forward with the project," said Gallatin County Commission Steve White.

The interchange would go in at Alaska-Frontage Road, easing congestion at the Jackrabbit Lane interchange and offering quick access to the airport.

Officials say now that they've squared away the details and are all on the same page. They fell confident heading in to Thursday's meeting.

"I think based on today's discussions was probably one of the most productive discussions we've had throughout the process of development of this project, and I think people finally realized we can all trust each other," said Jeff Ebert of the Department of Transportation.

If approved by the transportation commission, the group will be able to focus on the next phase of the project.

"If the commission approves on Thursday the fund plan that we've all worked very hard to secure then the acquisition of the right-away necessary to build the project will be the next milestone that needs to be achieved," Ebert said.

A nearly $9 million federal tiger grant is helping fund the project. That grant went to Gallatin County.

If approved, officials hope to start accepting bids on the project in the summer of 2013, and say construction of the interchange could be completed by 2015.