MISSOULA — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) says work is ready to begin on the Higgins Avenue Bridge in a couple of weeks, with a project expected to last into next year.
MDT had been working on plans to rehabilitate the Higgins Bridge for the past several years and had planned to get construction underway shortly after the first of the year.
But after bids for the project came in millions of dollars over the engineer's original estimates, the state was forced to go back to the drawing board and re-working some details on the project. That saved a lot of money, but it also meant the project had to be delayed until this fall.
However, when work starts on Oct. 5, it will adhere to the original timeline, preserving all of the work and community planning that had been accomplished.
“Absolutely, you know all the work that was put in by everyone to work together with all the different user groups and the landowners in the city," MDT Missoula District Administrator Bob Vosen said. "And we're still able to meet our schedule that we had originally planned. We were just delayed a year.”
In the first phase, contractors will replace and widen the bridge deck, starting on the west side of the bridge near the Wilma Theater, with traffic shifted over to sharing the current lanes on the eastern, or upstream side of the bridge. That work will last until next May, when crews will shift work to the second half with the project wrapping up in December 2021.