Making Connections: Trail plan in works to connect communities

8/26/2020 Belgrade News, Diana Setterberg

The recently approved Triangle Community Plan will direct future land use and development in the so-called Triangle Area between Belgrade, Bozeman and Four Corners, but absent from that plan are guidelines to ensure that “non-motorized transportation infrastructure” will flow freely within the area and connect to existing trail systems in the three surrounding communities.

Recognizing that now is the time to create a vision for a connected trail system in the Triangle Area, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust (GVLT) and Gallatin County have just launched a joint effort to create a Triangle Trail Plan to ensure that trail development occurs in a coordinated rather than piecemeal fashion.

“This is about connectivity and movement, setting a roadmap for what we hope will happen in the future,” said EJ Porth, GVLT associate director. “The bulk of these trails will be built by developers. A roadmap will give the opportunity for them to be built with connectivity in mind.”

The Bozeman engineering firm Sanderson Stewart has been hired to lead the planning process, which will be directed by a steering committee comprising representatives of affected jurisdictions. Jason Karp, Belgrade’s planning director, will represent the city on the committee. He said the project is one of the “more fun things” he has had the chance to work on in recent years, and added that the

city’s recently passed Growth Policy and Parks Master Plan set guidelines for trail components that ultimately will tie in with those developed in the Triangle Trail Plan.

“Long range, it will definitely benefit Belgrade,” he said.

Consultants are currently taking inventory of existing trails in the Triangle Area, which is bordered roughly by Belgrade and Interstate 90 on the north, the Gallatin River on the west, Four Corners/Blackwood Road on the south, and Davis Lane/South 19th Avenue in Bozeman on the east.

Karp said he has taken some bike rides in the area and discovered a surprising number of trails that already exist in the Triangle. He agreed there is ample opportunity to create “great connectivity between Belgrade, Four Corners and Bozeman” on non-motorized trails.

After consultants assess the current trail assets, county residents will be asked to share their ideas for trail development in the Triangle. Porth encourages citizens to “think big and dream big.”

She urged Belgrade residents will step up to join the process.

“The message to Belgrade is we really want their input,” she said. “It’s not just Bozeman that gets to have great trails.”

More information about the trail plan and opportunities for public engagement can be found at

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