Construction on the ‘Beartracks’ Bridge on Higgins Avenue in Missoula is on schedule, according to the Construction Engineer.

On Friday, KGVO News spoke to John Schmidt, District Construction Engineer with the Montana Department of Highways regarding the progress of the bridge construction, despite the recent heavy snow and cold winter temperatures.

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“We're still in the process of doing our repair work there on the east side and it’s coming right along,” said Schmidt. “We have had some materials shortage issues, so we're working through those, and it's going really well. We've been able to get a lot of our substructure work, that’s work under the bridge done and so we're just working through things right now.”

Schmidt said the snow and cold weather have not really slowed down work on the bridge.

“A little bit, but one of the nice things about bridge work is that there is work that we can do in the winter,” he said. “It's not as comfortable; it's definitely cold outside over the river there but we are able to work through the winter.”

Schmidt said the city is working with engineers to keep traffic moving across the bridge during construction.

“It's tough, and especially with the weather and the snow having only half that bridge open to traffic having a place to put the snow and keep everybody moving is tough,” he said. “But the city of Missoula has been doing a great job helping us with that. I think the city does use some smaller snow plows than what MDT has, and we have been trying to keep some of the salt off of that fresh concrete just because it's a little better for the concrete and its long term durability. So we've been working with the city to try and minimize some of that salt impact on the concrete.”

Schmidt said as construction continues, workers ask that drivers keep the traffic moving over the bridge for everyone’s safety.

“We just ask everybody to be safe and pay attention as they're driving across there,” he said. “We realize we've got some interesting stuff going on, but really it’s in everybody's best interest if people are focused on their driving and just paying attention.”

Schmidt said the construction schedule continues with the planned completion date in June and that the budget of $17 million is also still on target.

The Higgins Bridge was renamed ‘Beartracks’ in honor of a Native American family that was forced to cross the Clark Fork River at that point over a hundred years ago on its way from their land to the Flathead Reservation.

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