MISSOULA – Traffic was slammed after cars were cut over to the new Russell Street Bridge late last week.
But engineers are hoping that the congestion will ease as people get used to the changes, and crews continue to finish the transition and adjust detours.
The new span opened to traffic early Friday and by the morning commute, the backups were stretching for blocks.
However, Montana Department of Transportation officials told MTN News that the elevated levels of traffic shouldn’t last through the rest of the project as parts of the area see finished lanes that will be widened to allow for better traffic flow.
The Broadway and Russell Street intersection saw the highest initial level of backup in the area, and the right turn lane onto Russell will be closed to large tractor trailers to complete connecting pavement work.
River Road and Liberty Lane have also be affected by the switch to the new bridge and MDT officials hope to have those intersections cleared up as quickly as possible.
“Our plan is to — Liberty Lane in particular — we want to allow access in and out of there as soon as we can and as often as what we can. That’s why we are closing it. It allows us to build it a lot quicker,” MDT engineer Bob Vosen said.
“You know, it’s kind of a rip the bandaid off — is it better to do it slow and painful or just grab ahold and give it a tug? Just get in there close it get what we need to done and get them their access back so that’s what we are shooting for.”
There are new traffic patterns in the area due to the change to the new bridge and even those patterns might be changing so you can go to the MDT webpage to find those out.