MISSOULA – If you’re driving across the old Russell Street Bridge on Thursday, enjoy your last brush with history.
That’s because the venerable bridge should serve its last hundred vehicles sometime in the next couple of days.
The Montana Department of Transportation tells us crews are completing the last steps needed to cut all traffic over to the new Russell Street bridge by the end of this week.
Contractors have been working on the first phase of the new bridge over the past year, and are just about finished with the first, upstream half of the span.
The deck was laid earlier this spring and workers have been working to finish off the bridge so it can handle the first traffic.
That also includes the installation of the new sidewalks and the first of the decorative bridge railings and other features.
MDT District Administrator Ed Toavs says if everything goes on schedule through Thursday, the first traffic should be cut over from the old bridge sometime late in the evening, or early Friday morning.
That means drivers should be on the alert for changes in the detours and closures, as the old bridge will be shut down.
The changes will have some impacts on traffic entering from River Road and the other side streets, so commuters should be watching for new signs, lane changes, and workers as the construction shifts downstream.
Once the new bridge is in operation, contractors will remove the work deck upstream, and start removal of the old bridge downstream. Both parts of the new bridge will be in operation next year.
Click here to keep up to date with the latest information on the Russell Street Bridge project.