Rattlesnake Dam project sets sights on design phase

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 19:58:08-04

MISSOULA – The City of Missoula is moving into the early design phase of the Lower Rattlesnake Dam reconstruction.

City council public works committee got an update on the project on Wednesday.

The plans to remove the Lower Rattlesnake Dam started to come together last summer after the City of Missoula completed its multi-year battle to acquire Mountain Water. That deal finally opened the door for the dam to be torn down.

It hasn’t been used since 1983 and has been a block to fish passage upstream on Rattlesnake Creek.

Four possibilities to remove the dam were presented to the public in March. On Wednesday, stakeholders recommended option 3, which will remove the dam, rebuild the dam and reshape and restore the creek channel and floodplain.

Initial estimates for the cost of the project sits around $2 million but that number won’t be finalized until the initial design phase is completed. That is not anticipated to happen until early winter and construction is not expected until summer 2019.

Because of the size and scope of the project officials expect the project to be split into different phases.

"The reason we’ve done that is because looking at the potential costs of implementation as well as permitting considerations and timeliness," said Rob Roberts from Trout Unlimited. "It makes a lot of sense to potentially see this as a phase project where the project is not all completed in one field season or one year, but potentially phased over multiple years as funding and other conditions allow."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Service and others still need to sign off as well.