Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - KGVO's Nick Chrestenson asked an interesting question recently during one of our open phone segments on Talk Back.

He wanted to know why there aren’t any lights on the Reserve Street Bridge. He was curious because it is something his grandmother frequently questioned.

A very good question. Why AREN’T there any lights on the Reserve Street Bridge?

Ever Asked Yourself 'Why are there No Lights on the Reserve Street Bridge'?

KGVO News took up the challenge and reached out to Bob Vosen, Missoula District Supervisor with the Montana Department of Transportation, who referred us to Megan Redmond, Public Relations Specialist with the DOT, who looked into the question and spoke to KGVO on Thursday morning.

She began by stating that when the bridge was first constructed, there were very few businesses on the north side of the river, so the Reserve Street Bridge was considered to be what is referred to as a ‘rural bridge’.

When it was Built it was Referred to as a 'Rural Bridge'

“When the Reserve Street Bridge was originally built, I want to say in the mid-1970s, it historically has been treated as a rural bridge,” said Redmond. “Originally I believe in those plans in the 1970s there had been a lighting option, and at the time it was selected to not move forward with that option. Then once the second phase was done, which was in the mid-1990s that was built in accordance with the first section, again without adding lights so they would be consistent throughout.”

Redmond said the Montana Department of Transportation throughout the years has been providing maintenance and improvements to the bridge, but adding lights was never a part of those plans.

"Over the years there have been other features," she said. "There's a dedicated, protected pedestrian path. There are those center concrete barrier rails. And at this point, there haven't been lights added because we have, you know, been keeping an eye on the corridor and we aren't seeing any kind of a trend that we could add lights onto the bridge to address you know whether it would be a crash trend or incidences with pedestrians or bikes or anything like that we're adding lighting is going to increase the safety of the area."

Redmond said as the community grew to the north and traffic increased on the bridge, adding lights was never considered to be a necessary option.

“With Reserve Street being the busy thoroughfare that it is, and it being the major connector from Missoula down to the Bitterroot, and for those coming up, even up to the Flathead, everybody comes through that direction,” she said. “I know that our traffic and safety section is keeping an eye on the data and always kind of looking at the various trends that we could address by adding safety features and things like that.”

Adding Lights Now would Cost Nearly $750,000

With so many roads and bridges in the area that require improvements and maintenance, Redmond said the funds it would take to put lights on the Reserve Street Bridge at this time would be prohibitive.

“At this point, we do have a large amount of needs that we can actually look at the data and say, ‘Okay, if we can implement an improvement at x location that's going to increase safety for travelers on that stretch of highway, and at this point, this, unfortunately, is not an area that we can throw, I would say probably upwards of at least $500,000 to $750,000 to add lighting in this area, to justify that cost.”

Redmond also said the Department of Transportation was very grateful for all the help that the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, civic groups, and individuals have provided over the last year to remove the Reserve Street Bridge homeless camp that had existed in the area for many years.

So, the reasons why there are no lights on the Reserve Street Bridge are:

1) It was originally considered a ‘rural bridge’ and no lights were necessary.

2) When the second part of the bridge was added, there was still no need for the bridge to be lit.

3) The cost to add lights at the present, which would be between $500,000 to $750,000 would be prohibitive.

KGVO thanks the Montana Department of Transportation for its help in answering this question.

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