Missoula motorists: Prepare yourself for a bit of sightseeing around your own town next week, should you regularly use the Russell Street Bridge.
The Montana Department of Transportation is closing the bridge on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 29 and 30, so its badly deteriorated surface can be replaced.
That means drivers will need to use one of the city’s other bridges to get from one side of the Clark Fork River to the other.
The good news is that the Madison Street Bridge has reopened to all four lines after a reconstruction project there in recent months. There’s also the bridges on Higgins Avenue, Orange Street and North Reserve Street. So you’ve got options.
The Russell Street Bridge is slated for replacement as part of an expansion and rebuilding of Russell from West Broadway to Dakota.
Plans call for five lanes of traffic and a new bridge with arched girders. The street itself will include a landscaped boulevard and decorative lighting.
The Milwaukee Trail will cross underneath the roadway, as will a trail extension along the river.
While that years-long, $25 million project awaits funding, the Montana DOT and city of Missoula determined that maintenance was needed on the existing bridge to accommodate the high volume of traffic it handles each day.
The bridge is covered in potholes and cracks that reappear each time they are patched.
Next week’s work will give the bridge an entirely new surface, making it safer until work can begin on its replacement.