August 9, 2018

Maclay Bridge Alliance has not gone away.  We are still working to keep the historic Maclay Bridge.   Nevertheless there has been reduction in reported engineering progress for South Avenue Bridge pending fulfillment of several requests by Federal Highway Administration regarding the Categorical Exclusion.

February 2017 marked the submittal of a draft Environmental Report and a request for Categorical Exclusion by Missoula County and their consultant, HDR Engineers .  In August 2017, FHWA and Montana Department of Transportation responded to the request for CE with a list of inadequacies. To clarify those inadequacies, it was decided to hold an administrative meeting to include HDR, Missoula County, MDT, and FHWA.  That meeting was held October 27, 2017.

The only deficiency discussed during this October meeting was the need for further study of the yellow-billed cuckoo.  Subsequent emails revealed other FHWA requests that included design of pedestrian facilities near the proposed bridge and an analysis of the plan for rehabilitation of Maclay Bridge prepared by Dr. Kim, our rehab consultant.

At this date, we understand that the field study for the yellow-billed cuckoo is complete. HDR has informed us that they expect completion of their work by October and the next public meeting could be scheduled for later that month subject to Missoula County approval.  We have been told the public meeting will take place after the environmental document is approved, meaning there will be no opportunity for meaningful public comment.  In other words, the public meeting will be held simply to inform us of the decisions they have made for us.