© 2021 All rights reserved. Maclay bridge alliance
Absent an environmental impact statement (EIS), it is impossible to accurately ascertain the cost of either rehabilitating the one-lane Maclay bridge or building a new two-lane bridge on South Avenue West. It is possible, probable even, that building the new bridge will far exceed the cost of rehabbing the existing Maclay bridge by millions of dollars. The best estimate for the cost of rehabbing the one-lane Maclay bridge is $3.5 million.
The Missoula County consultant from HDR recommended a new bridge alternate that would cost over $13 million to build in a report dated 10/24/16.
These costs cover the construction of the bridges and their approaches, only There are additional costs to be considered. Because this will be a secondary, county-owned bridge, Missoula County will be responsible for upgrade costs estimated at $4.25-5 million to improve the roads around the new bridge, according to Shane Stack, Missoula County’s Public Works Director, at a meeting where he addressed safety concerns with local citizens on 10/11/2019
Funding for the design and construction of a new bridge on South Avenue West is split 86/13, federal and state dollars. The state share is funded through the Highway State Special Revenue Account. Because this will be a secondary, county-owned bridge, Missoula County will be responsible for upgrade costs estimated at $4.25-5 million to improve the roads around the new bridge, according to Shane Stack, Missoula County’s Public Works Director, at a meeting where he addressed safety concerns with local citizens on 10/11/2019.
Since Maclay Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), exclusions to current building and structural standards may apply, which will lower the cost of rehabbing the bridge. The following funding sources are available for bridge reconstruction or rehabilitation.
Those include Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)off-system bridge funds. What remains uncertain is whether one or both sources will be available for rehabbing the bridge.
There are no funds reserved solely for historical bridges in the most-recent federal highway bill. https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/bigforkbridge/faq.shtml
In 2018, Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork, a volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the infrastructure, quality of life, vitality and general welfare of the broader Bigfork Community, worked with MDT to create a community-backed plan for its outdated iconic one-lane bridge across the Swan River. The bridge is also listed on the NRHP.
“The (feasibility) study identified bridge and community needs and considered options to repair, replace or rehabilitate the bridge. We (MDT) heard residents loud and clear as they voiced their concerns regarding the historic appearance and the continued use of the one-lane bridge.” https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/bigforkbridge/default.shtml
Ultimately, the bridge was replaced, in the same location, with a historically relevant model that preserved the flavor and beauty of the original. The bridge replacement was funded through the MDT off-system bridge program.
MBA members and Big Flat area neighbors and residents have been equally vocal in their desire to maintain a one-lane rehabbed Maclay Bridge over the Bitterroot River. MBA believes that off-system bridge funding may be available for rehabbing the Maclay Bridge project and encourages MDT to consider that option.