Tuesday evening marks the first public meeting for the Harpers Bridge, also known as the South Avenue Bridge, and its design. Missoula County Engineer Erik Dickson said the overall design process began a few years ago after the conclusion of a planning study, as well as the Missoula County Commissioner’s decision to move the project forward with support from other organizations.

"We got our design consultant on board several months ago and have been collecting some background information," Dickson said. "Tomorrow's meeting is to present some of that basic information, let the residents know where we're at so far and what the plans are for moving forward with the design and environmental documentation."

The project is looking to replace the one-lane Maclay Bridge by removing it from its North Avenue location and trading it in for Harpers Bridge. Dickson said it would be an extended version of the old Maclay Bridge, only this time on South Avenue, connecting it to River Pines Road.

"The good thing is with Maclay Bridge still in place and functioning, it's not critical that it be removed in the time frame that we're looking at and won't impact the daily traffic that's used to travel that road everyday," Dickson said. "As far as the cost goes, I believe it's around $11 million. One benefit is with Maclay being a one-lane truss, this will be a two-lane structure"

Dickson said the design is a two-year process. To learn more, visit the South Avenue Bridge Project website.