January 15, 2007

The Montana Dept. of Transportation is considering whether it should reinforce or just replace the Highway 200 bridge over the Blackfoot River in Milltown, reports the Missoulian. Five bridges, built to stand in still water, must be reinforced or replaced before the Milltown Dam can be removed. The Interstate 90 bridge work has already begun. The state has been exploring options for the Highway 200 bridge and has learned that it would cost nearly as much to reinforce as it would to replace it.

And while the state evaluates its options, planning on the Bonner pedestrian bridge and much of the pedestrian trail system is on hold. The pedestrian bridge, which recently received a $975,000 grant from the state’s Natural Resource Damage Program, may be made redundant, as the new Highway 200 bridge would include a pedestrian walkway. The NRD money, however, was to be used by Missoula County as a match for federal funds from the transportation bill for a trail network in the Bonner-Turah area. That, too, is on hold, except for one section from Piltzville to the Bonner School, which has been funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Once additional details emerge, a public meeting will be held in Bonner, likely in early February. Check the CFRTAC website for updates.

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