MISSOULA — The Montana Department of Transportation is re-imposing weight limits on the new Beartracks Bridge in downtown Missoula, but only as a temporary measure, while new concrete is poured.
Weight limits had been placed on the bridge earlier this summer after engineers discovered some cutting operations during the rehabilitation project had potentially impacted the span's load-bearing. But after further inspections and work, the limits were raised a few weeks ago to 21-tons.
Now, MDT says crews are ready to start pouring concrete for the bridge's upstream, or eastern span. So the state will put a temporary 5-ton weight restriction on the bridge and a speed limit of 15 mph as a precaution. The restriction will take effect Wednesday morning and be in place through Sunday.
“The short-term restrictions are critical for ensuring the concrete cures properly,” John Schmidt, District Construction Engineer said. “We are asking drivers to help us out by complying with the temporary weight limits and traveling slowly across the bridge.”
Crews will pour an Ultra High Performing Concrete (UHPC) on the east side of the bridge midweek. When set, this concrete will boast a strength of 25,000 pounds per square inch (psi), outdoing the 4,000 psi of standard concrete by more than six times. MDT says it's best to limit vibrations while the new concrete cures.
The state says most pickups and SUVs are probably under the weight limit, but freight trucks, buses, motorhomes, and vehicles pulling trailers will be over the weight limit and should use an alternate route to cross the Clark Fork River.
The 21-ton weight restriction will resume on Monday.