MISSOULA — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) announced on Wednesday that it will install a fence near the Reserve Street Bridge next week, to keep out trespassers.
MDT officials say they have long been concerned about the infrastructure in the area, and illegal camping is causing more health and safety concerns.
The city and county are moving forward with plans to relocate the homeless population living under the bridge, and MDT says this is the first step to that process.
Construction will start on Monday with MDT District One Administrator Bob Vosen saying the goal of the fence is to protect the infrastructure in the area.
"It's a chain-link fence, six feet to eight feet in height. The intent of the fence is to keep people from being able to have easy access to the area under the bridge."
Following four recent fires on land under the bridge, of which MDT is the majority landowner, MDT recognizes the urgency of the work.
"We can't keep rolling the dice on protecting our most vital infrastructure system,” Vosen added. “We simply cannot risk it.”
Vosen said other organizations will take the lead in relocating people, and they will not do that until other shelters are in place.
Community members are being encouraged to learn more about the project by email.