There isn't a firm construction date yet. But engineers with the Montana Department of Transportation say they've decided to proceed with the replacement of a critical span across the Bitterroot River.

That will mean some big travel impacts for residents of the Corvallis area. But it also means the aging bridge west of the town will be safer, and more reliable.

And right now, MDT is inviting people to offer their initial comments on the replacement.

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Woodside Bridge is a busy one

The Woodside Crossing Bridge provides a vital link for residents in the wide area around Corvallis on the east side of the Bitterroot Valley to reach the west side of the valley, and Highway 93. Thousands of cars depend on the crossing, the only way to get across the river from the north side of Hamilton to Victor.

However, the bridge is showing its age and increasing safety concerns. While there have been a few changes in recent years, like lower speed limits, better signs, and maintenance, engineers have said the span isn't adequate for growth.

There's also the problem of the bridge's location on a corner of the river, which means exposure to flooding conditions. Plus the ongoing problem of people using the bridge to dive into the river during summer.

READ MORE: Will You Miss Trains in the Bitterroot?

Starting over

This week, MDT announced it decided to do a complete replacement of the bridge, which is on Secondary Highway 373 between Catherine Lane and U.S. 93.

The proposed project would completely replace the bridge with a new wider span, that will also include a "shared use" path providing better protection for bikes and walkers, new pavement markings and signage, with upgraded guardrails.

No firm date for construction

Construction of the new bridge is a ways off and is tentatively outside the state's 5-year planning window. But MDT says it might start sooner if plans are complete and money becomes available to pay for right-of-way and moving utilities.

You can offer initial comments on the project now on the MDT website.

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