Missoula officials are now saying it will take "extensive repairs" before the Northside Pedestrian Bridge can re-open, forcing commuters on foot and two wheels to use detours.

The City of Missoula closed the bridge on September 30 after an inspection showed there were "significant fractures" in the bridge's decking and supports. The bridge provides a critical crossing for people trying to cross over the Montana Rail Link track and Missoula switching yard, without having to travel several blocks east or west.

Now the city is going to hire an engineer to figure out the full extent of the damage and come up with a plan to either repair or replace, the damaged bridge components. The bridge is expected to remain closed for an extended period of time. 

"This is an important transportation corridor in Missoula. We recognize that and take it very seriously," said Mayor Jordan Hess in a prepared statement.

Once the engineers complete their report, the city will have to hire a contractor to complete the work, so construction probably won't happen until early next year. 

In the meantime, the City is promoting alternate routes, including a detour using the Orange Street Underpass to the west. 

"The Northside Pedestrian Bridge is a go-to for sustainable commuters and an indispensable connection between the Northside and the rest of the city," said Ben Weiss, the City’s Bicycle/Pedestrian program manager. "Now that it is closed for structural repairs, it's important that we provide transportation options. As the City learns more about the condition of the Northside Bridge and a schedule for repairs is established, we will continue to provide updates." 

The city is promising to post regular updates on the Missoula in Motion Facebook page and Instagram account. 

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