Gathered with city officials on the Milwaukee Trail pedestrian underpass, the Montana Department of Transportation celebrated completion of the new Russell Street bridge with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The celebration comes after decades of planning and a two year, $29 million construction project.
At the ceremony, four key figures, including Mayor John Engen, recognized the dozens of people and businesses around the Missoula community that contributed to the final project.
“There are people whose entire careers have been anchored to this one project,” said MDT Director Mike Tooley. “That would include mine.”
The bridge, once infamous for being squeaky, now provides easier access for all types of transportation crossing the Clark Fork River, including walkers and bicyclists. Each speaker at the commemoration emphasized that the new bridge helps connect the community.
Over 250 hours went into constructing the bridge. Allan Frankl, vice president of Dick Anderson Construction, said that everyone who contributed in the project did “their part in doing something for their community to make it a better place to live.”
Engen called it a “testament to community collaboration.”
Looking beyond the Russell Street Bridge, MDT’s next project will move to the reconstruction of the Higgins Avenue Bridge beginning this fall.
Julia Johnson is a Missoula Current intern from the Missoula Writing Collaborative.