The tired and worn-out Russell Street Bridge will get a face lift on Tuesday and Wednesday as workers will be applying new pavement to the bridge decks, in anticipation of a new bridge to be constructed in 2018.

Missoula Division Administrator of the Montana department of Highways Ed Toeves explained why the work will close the entire bridge for two days.

"Starting at about 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, we'll be closing the Russell Street Bridge from the Broadway intersection down to about Idaho Street," Toaves said. "The hard closure means we are going to resurface about 75 feet north of the bridge and south of the bridge, along with the entire bridge deck."

Hatton Littman with MCPS said school buses will have minor delays on Tuesday and Wednesday as they find an alternative route over the Clark Fork River.

Workers will be doing the project now to keep the bridge decks from sustaining extensive damage over the upcoming winter, as happened last year. However, Toaves said, a highly anticipated new bridge is planned for 2018.

"We'll have the new bridge project underway in 2018," he said. "If everything goes according to schedule, we should be switching traffic over to the first half of that new bridge by October or November of 2018, and this will be the last winter that the existing Russell Street Bridge will be in service."

Toaves said the entire bridge project will be about $32 million, with approximately 87 percent of the funding coming from the federal government's gas tax, and the remainder will come from the state's gas tax, called the state match for the federal aid projects.

He said bids will be opened on September 21 to determine which companies will actually build the new bridge.


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