The new Beartracks Bridge is officially named, but there's still work to be done before winter. And that means drivers won't be able to travel directly into Downtown Missoula for a couple of weeks. 

The dedication of the bridge yesterday marked the symbolic end to the lengthy project. But John Schmidt, the Missoula Construction Engineer for the Montana Department of Transportation, says contractors need to make the bridge stronger on one side.

"So we do have to go back into the west side of the bridge where traffic is at right now and make some repairs to eliminate that weight restriction that's been on there through the summer," Schmidt explains. "So that's going to be the big impact. There'll be a detour around the bridge for a couple weeks."

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That means northbound traffic won't be able to use the bridge and will detour to the Madison Street Bridge via 6th Street. 

"Only room for one lane of traffic on that east side so there will have to be a detour." 

But Schmidt hopes the work can be wrapped up quickly, with some finishing touches next year.

"You know, once we get that wrapped up and get that bridge all put together in November, the plan right now is to walk away for the winter," Schmidt says. "And then we do have some final sealing that just can't be done. during the cold weather of the winter. And we'll come back in the spring and wrap that all up."

As we reported yesterday, MDT is still calculating the extra construction costs from the project's delay in getting materials.  

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