Plans to build a new parking lot at a popular recreation site in Missoula to address safety concerns will be delayed for another season, Missoula County said Tuesday.

The project, planned at the Sha-Ron fishing access site, will now begin next spring. Work was slated to begin this year, though project partners needed more time to finalize agreements.

“We're excited to have this project ready for public use,” said Shane Stack, director of Public Works for the county. “We’ve adjusted the timeline slightly to make sure all agencies can complete their requirements and to help reduce the cost of materials.”

Citing safety concerns, the county has pushed for the project for the past two years. The Sha-Ron site is popular in the summer for river users and often overflows, leaving cars packed along the narrow highway shoulder.

Concerns over vehicle accidents and pedestrian safety have been an issue for years. In each of the past two seasons the county, along with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Department of Transportation, have worked to overcome jurisdictional issues to make the project work.

Once work begins, the project will result in 68 additional parking spots and include a trail to the river site, preventing the need to walk along the highway. The project will also include restrooms.

Stack said FWP will manage the site through a recreation permit issued from the transportation department, which owns the right of way. The county will maintain the trail.

“Unexpected delays interrupted the timeline, requiring adjustments to the schedule around weather and material prices. The new timeline will allow for a more competitive bidding process when the project is set to begin.”