BELGRADE, Mont. - Gallatin county's secured big money to help add new interstate access ramps in Belgrade.
Building a second interchange has been one of the county's top priorities for over a decade.
It would be located about a mile east of the Jackrabbit Lane interstate access near Alaska Frontage Road and right in the area of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, one of the state's biggest airports.
"Our Grants Coordinator Larry Watson said, 'You got a minute?' and came in and closed the door behind him and he had a grin but, kind of quivering and he said, 'We got it!' and I went, 'What?' 'The TIGER Grant!'"exclaims Gallatin County Commissioner Bill Murdock.
Murdock says, after two failed attempts, he was surprised to hear the county would finally be within reach of the I-90 Belgrade Interchange.
The federal grant brings the county nearly nine million dollars closer to their goal and without it, Murdock says the outlook was grim.
"The county, the city of Belgrade, the airport board said, 'We're all contributing a combined seven million. We're maxed out. Don't look to us for anymore.' MDOT, a month ago, said, 'We don't have anymore so, it's a good thing we got this money because the project wouldn't have happened without it," explains Murdock.
Now, Murdock says he's certain they can come up with the rest of the money to set the project in motion.
"I don't want to trivialize this but, if we're within $300,000 to a million dollars on a $45 million project, I have it on good advice, good authority from people I've talked to in the transportation department. I'm very confident we'll come up with that shortfall. That's, to me, not an issue at all," says Murdock.
Though folks from Bozeman, visitors and those traveling to and from the airport will all see the advantages of the interchange, perhaps one of the greatest beneficiaries is the city of Belgrade.
Murdock says it will transform the city.
"It's already one of the fastest growing, if not the fastest growing town in the state of Montana. It will put it on the map as an even better place to live and work," says Murdock.
Belgrade Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debra Youngberg says she was ecstatic to hear the news.
"It was like a big weight had been lifted from our shoulders," says Youngberg.
She says even more important than easing traffic flow is the interchange's role in making Belgrade safer for its citizens.
"That way we do have one way underneath the railroad tracks to get fire trucks and ambulances, people that have an emergency out to the interstate or out to the south side of Belgrade," explains Youngberg.
Officials agree one thing's for sure, it's been a long time coming.
"It's really exciting when you've been working on something that long to finally see the fruits of your labor come to a reality," says Youngberg.
Youngberg says they're in the design phase now and expect to break ground for the interchange within a year or two.