Acting on the advice of the Montana Department of Transportation, the city of Missoula closed the Madison Street Bridge to pedestrians on Monday, citing deterioration of the walkways and safety issues.
The bridge serves as a major piece of local infrastructure, connecting the east end of downtown Missoula with the University District neighborhood.
“The reason for the closure is deterioration of the walkway’s concrete, called spalling, caused by repeated cycles of freezing and thawing,” said Ginny Merriam, the city’s communications director. “Pieces of coarse aggregate in the walkway, exposed in the spalling process, are breaking off, causing the walkways to be unsafe.”
The Montana Department of Transportation has plans to replace or rehabilitate three of the city’s four aging bridges crossing the Clark Fork River in the coming years, including the Madison Street Bridge.
The infrastructure was identified in a Missoula Bridges Planning Study as structurally deficient. Replacement of the bridge is slated for 2020, though it could happen sooner, the Montana Department of Transportation has said.
Merriam said pedestrians who typically use the Madison Street Bridge to cross the river are asked to use the footbridge below.
Those heading south can take Front Street south to Parsons Drive to the riverfront trail. Those heading north can access the bridge via the Kim Williams Trail.
“A Montana Department of Transportation bridge engineer from Helena will inspect the situation tomorrow and make long-term recommendations,” Merriam said.