MISSOULA – It’s still early, but engineers with the Montana Department of Transportation are starting to gather the public’s ideas for the eventual rebuilding of Missoula’s Higgins Avenue Bridge.
The Higgins Bridge is the second of the “downtown” Missoula bridges that MDT has studied over the past few years and scheduled for major work. Engineers say the entire bridge deck will need to be replaced, along with other structural improvements to extend its lifespan for a few more decades.
Two years ago, the state ordered similar work on the Madison Street Bridge, which was accelerated because portions of the sidewalk began to fail.
MDT Missoula District Administrator Ed Toavs says the Higgins work will follow the same pattern as Madison, where the bridge deck is replaced a section at a time. Although Higgins will be more complicated because of its location close to the downtown and Caras Park, Toavs says the Madison project gave engineers a template to follow.
“The nice thing about Madison is it really set the stage for Higgins,” said MDT Missoula District Administrator Ed Toavs. “People saw what was and what is now, so they saw what it could be. And because of the collaborative effort that we’ve done with the business community, the downtown folks, the city, in that case the University, folks can see what a final product really looks like.”
An open house will take place at the Wilma Theater on Tuesday afternoon analyzing the ideas being put forward so far, and giving people a chance to offer input to engineers as the design phase gets underway this year.
That open house runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.