MISSOULA – Missoula County commissioners will take their concerns over the South Avenue Bridge to a meeting with state and federal highway planners, hoping to find out whether plans could be changed and if the county would be liable for paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As we reported first last month, county commissioners ordered a “hold” on plans to replace the aging Maclay Bridge with an entirely new bridge on South Avenue because of questions they had over the status of the lingering project.
While previous commissioners were pressuring for the Maclay Bridge replacement, the re-organized board wants to be completely briefed before moving forward. That includes information on whether the old bridge can still be used, whether designs and location of the new bridge can be altered and what role the county plays in the final project.
Perhaps the largest question though is whether the county may have to pay back money the Federal Highway Administration and the Montana Department of Transportation have already committed to the project. Some estimates have placed that as high as one million dollars.
Commissioners have now sent a two-page letter to MDT and the Highway Administration outlining their concerns, and plan to meet with the agencies in Helena in a couple of weeks.