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In Billings Heights, the area is safer for medical Students at Crow, with a new sidewalk



Billings, Montana – Since Medicine Crow Middle School opened in 2016, parents and the Heights Task Force have expressed worry about students using Barrett Road to go to and from school.

In keeping with what School District 2 has already constructed, an additional sidewalk was just finished at the start of the current school year.

Being within the Billings city limits, the Barrett Road Patio Home Apartments’ developer was required to install a sidewalk in front of the subdivision.

Since the other developer’s site is outside of the city borders, there is no requirement to install a sidewalk there.

However, the Patio Home Apartments’ builder chose to build it there anyhow out of concern for the children’s safety.

There is now a half-mile sidewalk on Barrett Road from Bench Boulevard to Hawthorne Lane, making it easier for students to walk home from Medicine Crow Middle School.

“I didn’t really start walking here when there was no sidewalk yet,” one student said.

“We’re always concerned with our students getting here and getting home,” said Michael Thomas, Medicine Crow principal. “Some of the most unsafe situations that we address every single day is kids around cars.”

Students who choose a different route home, such as the new sidewalk, are an inspiration to their peers.

“It’s useful for the kids who have to go straight because I don’t think they should bike in the road,” said Shaylie Robbins, a student at Medicine Crow.

“It was pretty bad,” J.J. Robinson, a Medicine Crow student, said about Barrett before the new sidewalk. “I don’t go out that way. but thought it was pretty bad.”

“No shoulder on that road, typical county road,” said Jim Berve, general manager of ABCO Billings, the company that installed the sidewalk.

Cal Kunkel, the manager of Berve, made the decision to construct the sidewalk all the way up to Hawthorne when the city mandated it be built in front of the Barrett Road Patio Apartments.

“The request was made to carry it on and Cal agreed,” Berve said.

“That’s excellent because some of our students do walk quite far,” Thomas said.

“There was nobody calling him saying hey, are you going to do those sidewalks? Nothing,” said Jason Lillie, former chair of the Heights Task Force. “And he did it because he said he would.”

Lillie stated that Kunkel promised to install sidewalks five years ago, but there were zoning difficulties at the time.

“Parents were actually posting pictures of kids walking in the street with snow and ice and car traffic,” Lillie said. “And so there was a lot of concern.”

It’s better for everyone now that the school district sidewalk has an additional quarter mile of sidewalk added to it.

“Me and my dog walk twice a day on the sidewalk,” said Traci Briske, Heights resident. “And you can go all the way down (to Hawthorne) and all the way down (to Bench).”

“Having a sidewalk is pretty important for the kids,” said Ben Fuller, a Heights resident, who likes the sidewalks for his and other children.

“To have a member of our community step up and ensure that the most heavily trafficked portion of that road has sidewalks and safe access for children is huge,” Lillie said.


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