Vehicle Weight Limit in Place for Missoula’s Beartracks Bridge
The construction project that began on what was then known as the Higgin's Bridge has made all kinds of headlines since the project got underway. One initial topic of conversation was about how construction would interfere with the Missoula Marathon and the homestretch to the finish line, located right by the Wilma at the start of the bridge. Of course, that didn't really come into play thanks to COVID wiping out marathon weekend both this year and last.
Then we had the story of how the bridge would get a new name, followed by the story of how surface temperatures were so hot on the bridge that a sign went up to warn pedestrians about the possibility of burning their dogs' paws by walking over it. It didn't take long for a fix to be put in place - as a new coat of paint was put down to help keep surface temps at an acceptable level. So yep, there's been some buzz going on with the bridge over the last few months.
The latest bit of bridge banter is that the Montana Department of Transportation just put a 10-ton weight limit into effect. For comparison, an article from NBC MONTANA says a school buss full of kids weights about 17 tons - and a comment from a post on the NBC MONTANA Facebook page says a firetruck weights about 15 tons. Everything is normal for typical vehicle loads and pedestrians but any load over 10 tons is currently being rerouted from the bridge. That includes Mountain Line buses.
A press release from MTD says: "Northbound traffic exceeding ten tons will be rerouted to Sixth Street and across Madison Street. Oversized southbound traffic will be rerouted to Main Street and then to Orange Street."
No official reason for the adjustment was given in the press release. So no word, but some comments from the NBC MONTANA Facebook post has commenters guessing that it has to be a temporary issue.
Here's a few thoughts that have been shared:
- Sounds like this is only a temporary construction detour for large vehicles. They must have discovered (or caused) structural weakening. The article doesn’t give much info but my guess is they will address the issue and once construction is complete, large trucks will be able to use the bridge again.
- Not sure I'd want to use this bridge at all. Seems likes it was doomed from the start.
- This is such a misleading headline. It makes it seem like the final product bridge can’t accommodate large vehicles when really I think they’re trying to say it’s during the construction phase…???
- Guess they need to build better support structures for it.
- The Bridge was to meet the needs and objectives and community desires to maintain and ideally improve connectivity, safety, accessibility, and capacity.
It does feel like some important details were left out of the press release when it was released. But a Missoulian article has recently been published that seems to shed a little more light on the reasons behind the precautions.
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