January 15, 2017

With the New Year, new developments continue for Maclay Bridge Alliance so we want to be sure you are informed.

Missoula County submitted the draft environmental document to Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) for review in December. We believe that review is complete or nearing completion. We also expect to see some new information regarding the soils program for South Avenue Bridge since the HDR (the local engineering firm that has been retained by Missoula County) technical team had a drill rig out in the river drilling additional bore holes last week.

Agency reviews of preliminary environmental documents related to South Avenue Bridge continue and some have been returned to Missoula County and HDR. Preliminary reports have been posted at www.southavenuebridge.com, under “Documents.” HDR re-scheduled to deliver the finalized environmental document early this month. We expect Public Meeting Number 3 will soon follow.

Maclay Bridge Alliance has also been busy…

We are pleased to report that Maclay Bridge has been officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Listing occurred December 21, 2016. While this listing does not assure the preservation of Maclay Bridge, it most certainly gives credibility to its rightful consideration as a historic bridge and one that should be considered for rehabilitation.

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) states, in part:

“It is the policy of the Federal Government… to use measures, including financial and technical assistance, to foster conditions under which our modern society and our historic property can exist…”

The proposed South Avenue Bridge project made no attempt to consider alternatives to meet the basic objectives of the NHPA. It is only through the efforts of local residents, who bore the expenses of finding qualified engineers experienced in the rehabilitation of historic bridges, that options to preserve Maclay Bridge were identified. It is possible to meet the letter and spirit of the NHPA by preserving the Maclay Bridge and to continue using this structure at much less cost than the new replacement bridge.

January 11, 2017 was the day scheduled for the regular Board of County Commissioners (BCC) to meet. MBA Director Fred Stewart chose that day to make a brief presentation of new information that MBA has developed and discovered concerning rehabilitation of Maclay Bridge. His presentation made this new information part of the public record. Given the abbreviated time allotted to him by Commission Chair, Jean Curtiss, Fred nevertheless was able to emphasize the benefits of considering rehabilitation as an option. He was also able to leave the entire presentation for their perusal. Included in that material was a comparison of benefits offered to the broader community for: a] NEW South Avenue Bridge; b] Maclay Bridge Rehab Option 1; and c] Maclay Bridge Rehab Option 1A.