BUILD Grant Update March 2022


BUILD Grant Update – March, 2022

The City of Billings was awarded a BUILD grant in September of 2020.

It’s been eighteen months since the City was notified of a successful BUILD grant. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grants can be quite a process and although the City doesn’t have anything on the ground yet, staff has been very busy behind the scenes. There are numerous steps and reviews that can take time, but staff is happy to announce that things are starting to move a bit more quickly. Below outlines some of the activities happening behind the scenes.  

•    The City completed the required NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) with a submittal and review by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Environmental Service Bureau. Using the NEPA process, the City evaluated over sixteen environmental and social/economic elements and how the proposed project could or would affect those elements. If any part of the project potentially could affect any one of the elements, the City would be required to identify mitigating measures. With the project occurring on vacant, undeveloped property, there were no mitigating construction projects for the City to undertake. The City was able to submit a Categorical Exclusion for this project, a much more streamlined process than that of a full environmental review. This review occurred throughout most of summer/fall of 2021. On October 27, 2021, the City received concurrence by MDT.

•    Once the NEPA documentation was completed, this allowed the City to actively initiate right-of-way activities. It is a FHWA requirement to have final NEPA concurrence prior to being able to begin right-of-way activities. This included ensuring all appraisal and appraisal review was completed per FHWA requirements.  Staff is actively engaged with the right-of-way process and landowners and is making progress.  Staff anticipates completing right-of-way activities by late May.

•    The City received approval on the White Paper on March 23, 2022.  The White Paper was required by FHWA to update the project scope of work, schedule, budget.

•    In addition to the above activities, the final construction engineering is complete, including the various park interpretive and directional signage along the Skyline Trail. With the final design information, the City and consultant were able to develop current project cost estimates.

All the procedures listed above are required prior to the City submitting a grant agreement for review by FHWA. Staff is preparing the draft grant agreement and is awaiting FHWA’s request for agreement submittal.  Staff anticipates submitting the draft grant agreement to FHWA around April 1, 2022.  When the draft grant agreement and other supporting documents, including a construction budget and project cost estimates, FHWA has 60-90 days for review and edits. This will occur with the City until a grant agreement is agreed upon.  The goal is to have the grant agreement executed in June 2022.

Once the draft grant agreement is submitted, staff will be working with City Legal and Finance for the review. Around this same time, staff will bring the draft agreement to the City Council for review and ask the Council to authorize the Mayor to sign the grant agreement when finalized.   Staff anticipates bringing a draft agreement to Council the last meeting in May.

Staff is excited to be at this point, it has been an extensive process, but we are starting to rev things up with anticipation to bid this fall.