BOZEMAN – This week is National Infrastructure Week and the Montana Infrastructure Coalition came to Bozeman today.
The purpose of this 16-stop tour is to talk to local leaders about what infrastructure projects are underway and how the city wants and plans to move forward in the future. According to the 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers’ report card, Montana was given a C- in relation to its infrastructure.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics released a report in 2015 stating that 45 percent of all of Montana’s roads need repair. Local leaders and politicians met at the intersection of Babcock and Cottonwood to talk about the infrastructure growth Bozeman has been facing over the past ten years.
Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl said Gallatin County accounts for 28 percent of Montana’s workforce and continues to bring in money to the state. He said because Gallatin County brings in a lot of jobs and money, the legislature should help the city by giving Bozeman tools such as a tourist tax.
“It seems like an opportunity, they are going to come to Glacier or Yellowstone anyway. If we could just get a little bit of that we could have significant tax relief or a lot money to pay for the infrastructure we need, which means we are not paying for it. It means the tourists who drive on the roads, who flush the toilets, who use the water are helping to pay for it,” said Mehl.
Mehl also stated that making decisions concerning infrastructure is critical because it costs even more money if the roads need to be expanded or redone. He said the city is needing to expand Cottonwood Road between Babcock and Durston Road to plan for the new Bozeman High School that will be opened in the fall of 2020.
Mehl said the street would not have cost as much if it would have been constructed correctly in the first place.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News