Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Members of the Missoula City Council on Wednesday approved a request to add $183,000 in costs to continue repairs to the Northside pedestrian bridge, which is set to reopen in July.

Wednesday's change order marks the third time the city has released additional funds for work on the bridge, which had rusted and fallen into disrepair.

But city engineer David Selvage said the latest repair work should extend the life of the bridge and address public safety.

“These expenses cover a variety of challenges and concerns, and are also aimed at reopening of the bridge,” he said. “At present, we're on schedule to open by the end of July.”

The bridge was designed by HDR and constructed in 1999. It underwent renovations in 2010 to address electrical lighting issues. But since then, a number of new structural issues emerged including poor drainage, rusting deck pans and failing masonry walls in both bridge towers.

While most of those issues have been addressed over the past year, Selvage said the new funding request will cover the cost of replacing the bridge's rusted handrails, applying paint to protect the concrete and adding downspouts and gutters.

It also pays to remove the asphalt from around the bridge's north tower and replace it with a park. There are no plans to repair the elevator. Rather, Selvage said, it will be decommissioned in place and the hydraulic oil will be removed.

“These are items we believe will help this project meet the public's needs and meet safety concerns,” said Selvage. “They are above and beyond the base project that we think are necessary to address now, otherwise it will require another closer. All these improvements will continue to provide for the maximum life cycle of the bridge.”

City officials said the latest funding request will be drawn from the project's contingency funds, leaving it with a balance of roughly $160,000.

“I'm excited for the neighborhood to have this open finally,” said council member Amber Sherrill.