The Missoula City Council is hiring a contractor to finally make repairs to the city's Northside Pedestrian Bridge. But there's no clear indication of when the bridge will re-open for public use.

The bridge's closure last year because of safety concerns has been a problem for people who live on the north side of town because they've had to use longer, alternate routes such as the Scott Street Bridge and the Orange Street tunnel to cross the railroad yards.

The bridge's condition has been an issue for several years now, stretching back to 2016. However, repairs were delayed for a variety of reasons. And those delays allowed more deterioration as time has gone on. Not only was the bridge's deck, or pan a problem, but the masonry towers on either end started to show structural failure.

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New contract for repairs was awarded this week

Now, the city council has awarded a contract for repairs with Jackson Contracting Group to completely rebuild the bridge, including the replacement of the masonry towers and the access ramps leading up to the bridge. The project will cost $2.7 million, but more than $800,000 of that had already been allocated in an earlier budget.

If the repairs cost less, the funds might be used for other similar projects.

No firm timetable for re-opening

Last month, city leaders had said they hoped to have the bridge back in service by "late this year." However, as with many other construction projects now, available materials or other issues could push that re-opening to early next year.

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