Posted: Sep 24, 2013 8:45 PM by Keele Smith
After 15 years in the works, a major construction project - the new Belgrade interchange- is officially underway in the Gallatin Valley.
County commissioners and other officials are breaking ground on the I-90 east Belgrade interchange project, which local residents have mixed feelings about.
Belgrade resident Mike Thorn said, "I'm gonna like it. I drive taxi at night and it'll be nice to be able to use the Interstate to get there as opposed to always having to use Frontage."
While project leaders expect the interchange to help cut down traffic through town, some residents disagree.
Micki Jones, another Belgrade resident said, "I think it's going to cause more traffic. I think we're going to lose some business and I've got short people that walk to school. So the idea of more strangers driving through town kind of freaks me out a little bit because I have cute daughters."
The new interchange will run about 25 feet under the interstate and will connect Alaska Road to Frontage Road and continue on to the airport.
Gallatin County Commissioner Steve White said, "When citizens that are driving are along the interstate watch construction over the next year, what they're going to see are some new bridges being built."
Two bridges will be along the interstate and one on the train tracks, which will hopefully won't make cars stop and wait for trains to cross.
New on and off ramps will also be built, connected by roundabouts at the bottom.
Some residents say better access to the interstate could lead to problems in Belgrade.
"Between cars not paying attention, my kids not paying attention, somebody is going to end up getting hit right here," Jones said.
A third Belgrade resident, Jacob Fraser said, "I have three little girls and since it's one block away, I may see quite a bit more traffic through my neighborhood."
Despite the concerns, they do acknowledge the benefits.
"Belgrade is laid out poorly," Fraser said. " Something needs to happen. Hopefully this is the right thing."
The project will cost about $34 million and is expected to be complete by 2015.