NewsMissoula County


MDT working on solution for hot sidewalk on Beartracks Bridge

Hot Sidewalk 3.png
Posted at 3:34 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 12:43:09-04

MISSOULA — A hot sidewalk isn't deterring people from using the new walkway on the Beartracks Bridge in downtown Missoula.

But the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) still wants people to be cautious with pets, and bare feet, until they can come up with a fix.

We first started getting messages from people last week, who had noticed the new walkway on the west side, or downstream side of the reconstructed bridge on Higgins Avenue seemed to be much hotter than usual.

It was especially noticed by dog owners, who reported their pets showing some discomfort as temperatures soared.

That prompted MDT to check, and sure enough, surface temperatures are much hotter than expected. So much so the state posted warning signs earlier this week.

But the signs don't seem to be deterring anyone as the bridge is as busy as ever or perhaps the comfortable temperatures in recent days haven't made it as noticeable.

MDT is acknowledging 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.

Engineers are looking at ways to paint or apply a thicker surface to improve those insulating capabilities.

The new walkway on the east side of the bridge will use traditional concrete.