MISSOULA — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) has increased the load rating of Beartracks Bridge on Higgins Avenue to 21 tons, effective immediately.
The change will more than double the weight allowed by the previous restriction, according to MDT.
“Analysis has been ongoing,” Bob Vosen, MDT Missoula District Administrator said. “Experts have evaluated all aspects of the bridge and determined that the increase to 21-tons is safe and appropriate.”
The discovery of damage to bridge structural supports prompted the institution of a ten-ton weight restriction in July until an additional investigation could be performed.
MDT states that an extensive analysis of the bridge took place over several weeks and has allowed transportation officials to raise the weight limit.
The increased weight limit will open bridge traffic to heavier vehicles and allow Mountain Line to resume routes across the bridge.
“We are pleased that the new load rating will provide increased access to many residents and travelers,” said Vosen. “This change will make it possible for school buses access to the bridge in time for the start of the school year.”
MDT notes a return to full capacity on the bridge is anticipated once repairs to structural supports have been completed. Meanwhile, construction on the east side of the bridge continues to move forward.
The public is encouraged to sign up for updates and ask questions via the project hotline at (406) 207- 4484 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Additional information about the Higgins Avenue Bridge project can be found here.