BILLINGS - It’s just over a quarter of a mile long and sits alongside the BBWA Canal.
Stretching from Woody Drive and Solomon Avenue to 21st Street West and Solomon Avenue, the new BBWA Canal Connection Trail does just that, it provides connections.
From a senior living facility to homes and apartment complexes that provide affordable housing, to the 20-acre Rose Park, the BBWA Canal Connection Trail was the neighborhood’s missing component.
“We already did some trail counts out here and there’s an average of 176 people per day already using this trail, so it’s great,” said Elyse Monat, active transportation planner for the City of Billings Planning & Community Services department during a ribbon cutting event for the trail on Wednesday morning.
The creation of the trail comes from partnerships across three city departments, one state government agency, and one non-profit.
Billings TrailNet funded the trail’s preliminary design to increase the chances of receiving grant money for the project.
The City of Billings Planning and Community Services department applied for a grant through Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP), which the City ultimately received.
“Essentially that funding comes through the Federal Highway Administration, and it comes to FWP, which we then are able to create a competitive grant program to go out to various Montana communities to help develop or maintain trail systems within the communities,” explained Stephanie Clemen, who manages the recreational trails program for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The City of Billings Public Works department contributed funding, land surveying, engineering, and ground preparation.
The City of Billings Parks and Recreation department also contributed funds and will maintain the trail going forward.
Wednesday’s ribbon cutting attracted a variety of age groups with a range of abilities.
Mayor Cole commented that’s exactly who the BBWA Canal Connection Trail is for.
“These opportunities are for everybody. They’re for exercise, they’re for fun, they have no barriers at all. They are for everybody,” Mayor Cole said.
The event wrapped up with a running race and then a speed walking race, to find out who could get across the new .27-mile trail first.
From a tiny toddler who recently began walking, to an elderly man on a crutch who was determined to see the trail, the BBWA canal has already proven to be an asset in the community.