By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
Work to build a new $4.2 million pedestrian bridge spanning South Reserve Street has begun, though the structure’s main span isn’t expected to arrive on scene until later this summer.
Late last month, crews shut down the westbound lane of Old Highway 93 South to lay the groundwork for what will become the bridge piles and concrete ramps.
“They’ll be driving piles and pouring concrete and the ramps,” said Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. “We’re going to have a world-class trail.”
Once complete, the bridge will give bicyclists and pedestrians safe passage over the busy Reserve Street corridor, which handles more than 43,000 vehicles per day. The structure will link the Bitterroot Branch Trail east of Reserve with the new $4.5 million Missoula to Lolo Trail west of highway.
It will also allow easy access to the new Fort Missoula Regional Park, which is also under construction.
“The bridge should be completed by mid-fall, maybe around October – maybe sooner,” Buchanan said. “They’re still doing the design detail and shop drawings. The center section will be fabricated and brought to the site.”
Last year, the Missoula City Council approved MRA’s request for a 25-year bond to pay for the project. The bridge’s initial design was changed to accommodate two businesses that sit nearby.
Buchanan said debt repayment will come from tax increment financing in Urban Renewal District 3, an area of Missoula that has seen increased interest among developers.