MISSOULA — A ribbon was cut to open what was known at the time as the Lincoln-Russell Bridge on Oct. 8, 1957, and 63 years later, a ribbon will be cut to celebrate the new Russell Street bridge and its many amenities on Wednesday morning.
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is set to host a celebration on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the entrance to the Milwaukee Trail pedestrian underpass.
“We hope everyone will join us in celebrating the completion of this project and the beginning of many recreational and travel opportunities for the residents of Missoula,” said MDT District Administrator Bob Vosen said.
The celebration will feature remarks from Mayor John Engen and MDT Director Mike Tooley and includes a ceremonial walk through the Milwaukee Trail pedestrian underpass.
“The Russell Street Bridge construction project was a tremendous undertaking, but one that will benefit the city of Missoula for many years to come,” Vosen said. “We appreciate the patience and involvement of the community throughout this project. It is a testament to the residents of Missoula that they are committed to safer travel for everyone.”
The plans for the reconstruction of the Russell Street Bridge have been in the works for decades with construction starting in April 2018. Crews worked to relocate utility lines, re-route trail users, demolish the existing bridge and construct a safer, wider bridge.
“This project was truly a collaboration between the Montana Department of Transportation, the City of Missoula, and countless community partners. Without the hard work of all involved, none of this would have been possible,” said Vosen.
The new roadway boasts four lanes of traffic and improved lighting along the expanse of the bridge. MDT notes that motorists can expect a smoother flow of traffic and a safer commute on a bridge now two-and-a-half times bigger than the original structure.
Shared-use paths stretching from Dakota Street to Broadway Street will now more safely accommodate Missoula’s increasing bike traffic. Pedestrians have been utilizing the 106-foot arched and lit undercrossing for the Milwaukee Trail at Russell Street.
An additional undercrossing has been added on the south side of the Clark Fork River providing pedestrian and cyclist access down to the riverfront and to River Road under the Russell Street Bridge, according to MDT. This access point offers Missoula’s outdoor adventurers easier connections to the south Riverfront Trail system, McCormick Park and the California Street Pedestrian Bridge.
Click here to view additional information on the Russell Street Bridge project.