NewsMissoula County


Efforts continue to lower temperature on Beartracks Bridge walkway

Beartracks Bridge White Paint
Posted at 1:29 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 10:18:02-04

MISSOULA — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) hopes some new paint will cool off the hot sidewalk on the Beartracks Bridge.

The new path across the downstream section of the rebuilt bridge on Higgins Avenue started to scorch some dogs' paws after the installation of the new polymer panels.

The panels were meant to ease weight from the wider walkway on the side of the bridge. But apparently, the panels were absorbing the heat, rather than reflecting it.

Even when temperatures were only in the mid-80s, we measured and found the sidewalk heat climbing to Death Valley temperatures.

But now, MDT is trying something different -- and at least on Wednesday, it was working.

The city's transportation agency, Missoula in Motion, notes MDT is applying a new white paint that cools the surface by as much as 20-to-30°.

MTN News is waiting to hear whether MDT will paint the entire walkway. We do know the state will build a traditional concrete walkway on the east side of the bridge.

first report: 1:29 p.m. - Jume 23, 2021)

Crews are continuing to work on finding a solution to an unexpected problem on the recently completed sidewalk along the Beartracks Bridge.

MTN News recently reported that people had noticed the new walkway on the west side of the reconstructed bridge on Higgins Avenue seemed to be much hotter than usual.

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) has been working to come up with a solution.

MDT officials previously acknowledged the walkway can become "extremely hot" and believe it's because of the polymer panels used to save weight on the side of the bridge, which are reflecting, instead of absorbing heat.

A social media post from Missoula in Motion notes that workers tested out some white paint and found it cools the sidewalk by 20-to-30° so MDT is going to paint the area white.