Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Montana Department of Transportation has released an update on the Higgins Avenue Beartracks Bridge that will temporarily require the closure of one lane and moving other traffic to the Madison Street Bridge.

KGVO News spoke to Matt Straub, Engineer and Project Manager for the Montana Department of Transportation about the traffic interruptions that will be necessary on the bridge.

There will be Detours on the Bridge on Wednesday and Thursday

“This week we're going to be doing some repairs on the west side of the bridge,” began Straub. “To complete these repairs, we're going to have to carry the southbound traffic routed on the east side of the bridge and the northbound traffic will be detoured to Madison Street. Additionally, the West Side shared use path will also be closed. There are some gusset plates that need to be replaced under the left side of the bridge. In order to do these repairs, we cannot have a live load on the bridge because we have to jack the end of the structure up and support it.”

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Straub provided more details about the detour, as well as general information about the Higgins Avenue Beartracks Bridge project, including the anticipated budget.

Straub Estimates the Beartracks Bridge Budget upon Completion in the Spring

“We're expecting the repairs to take one to two days,” he said. “We're hoping to get the work done as quickly as possible, but there are multiple places that we have to work. This will be our last traffic impact for the season. We will return in the spring, in April or May to do a polymer overlay and put the final touches on the bridge, but the final budget is going to probably roll in there at about $17 million.”

The work and the detours will begin Wednesday, December 14 and conclude by the close of business on Thursday, December 15.

Below Find Important Snowplow Etiquette

In addition, Kristine Fife of Big Sky Public Relations, speaking on behalf of the Montana Department of Transportation has advice on driving near Montana Department of Transportation snowplows.

“Drive safely this winter and keep these tips in mind,” began Fife. “Don't pass a plow when the tow-plow is deployed. The operator will periodically rotate the tow-plow back in the line with the truck to allow vehicles to pass. Be aware that where there is one plow working, others may be nearby. The snow cloud created by one pile may obscure the presence of additional plows in adjacent lanes. When approaching a snowplow from the rear, reduce speed immediately, and when approaching an oncoming plow, don't crowd the centerline.”

When traveling in winter conditions where snowplows are operating, Fife provided this important advice.

“Be patient,” she continued. “Plow operators know where they can pull over to let vehicles pass. But remember, the road in front of the plow is likely not as clear as the road behind it. MDT has tools to help plan for conditions so you can reach your destination safely. Find more plow safety information and winter driving here. Current construction information with restriction and road conditions throughout Montana can be found here.

The takeaway from this information is ‘Don’t Crowd the Plow!’

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