Benefits of a Frontage Path in Gallatin County, Montana

This report describes the benefits of a frontage path--a proposed paved, multi-use pathway connecting Belgrade and Bozeman along an approximately ten-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 10 in Gallatin County.

  • A proposed path between Bozeman and Belgrade, Montana would provide many benefits to local residents, including increased safety, improved public health from increased physical activity, increased property values, business attraction and growth, reduced carbon emissions, and improvements in quality of life, socioeconomic opportunity, and social cohesion.
  • The proposed pathway would create benefits estimated at more than $22.8 million during the first 20 years, although this number underestimates the benefits since many important values cannot be quantified.
  • These benefits are worth approximately twice the cost of path construction and maintenance, estimated at $8.9 to $11.7 million.

This report along with a one-page summary describe the potential benefits of a proposed paved, multi-use pathway connecting the cities of Belgrade and Bozeman along an approximately ten-mile stretch of Frontage Road (U.S. Highway 10) in Gallatin County, Montana. This report was produced on behalf of the Galla10 Alliance for Pathways using standard statistical methods recommended by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


The path has been discussed by community members, transportation officials, and elected leaders for decades. It would provide non-motorized transportation options for travel to and from work, school, the airport, parks, and business, as well as recreational trail opportunities for nearby residents.

The proposed path would provide many benefits to residents, including increased safety, improved public health, rises in property values, business attraction and growth, reduced carbon emissions, and improvements in quality of life, socioeconomic opportunity, and social cohesion. The benefits that can be monetized are valued at more than $22.8 million during the first 20 years of the project, and likely significantly underestimate the total value of the path. The monetized benefits are approximately twice the estimated cost of the path construction and maintenance.

Benefits of a Frontage Path

This report describes the proposed benefits of a frontage path and their monetization where possible, in five broad categories:

Public Health and Safety
A separated, shared-use path will improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, avoiding an estimated 16 crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists on Frontage Road in the first 20 years. The path would also improve health from increased physical activity of residents. This is valued at approximately $21,762,000.

Economic Benefits
Numerous studies show that proximity to trails can increase private property values by 5-10%. Businesses also find trails have positive impacts on shopper traffic and spending. Bike routes to airports are also an increasing trend for workers and travelers.

Environmental Sustainability
Creating a safe, scenic non-motorized transportation option and commuter route for residents in Belgrade and Bozeman will eliminate an estimated 34,450 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions during the next 20 years, the equivalent of removing around 1,700 cars. This is valued at approximately $978,000.

Quality of Life
Research shows that residents who live near trails highly value opportunities to meet neighbors, recreate with families outdoors, and engage in social interaction. By connecting Belgrade and Bozeman, we estimate that bicycle and pedestrian use of the route will increase by approximately 3,200 new users per year. This is valued at approximately $81,000.

Community Planning Priorities
Community transportation and trail planning documents for Gallatin County, City of Belgrade, and City of Bozeman explicitly rank the proposed pathway as a high priority.

Background: Trails Library
Headwaters Economics compiled more than 130 trails research studies on the impacts of trails in a single library, searchable by type of benefit, use, year, and region.