One of the most popular river areas in Missoula County for fishing, swimming, boating and general, uh, mirth, may not be as easy to access this summer.

Western Montana recreation enthusiasts of all ages are familiar with Johnsrud Park, hidden from Highway 200 along the Blackfoot River, between Bonner and Potomac. A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks overview of its amenities says that Johnsrud is a state fishing access site with restrooms and drinking water. Fishing and boating may be enjoyed on the Blackfoot River. There is a boat launch for carry-in launching only. Non-motorized watercraft only is allowed for the Blackfoot River and its tributaries. Johnsrud also includes a day use shelter, horseshoe pits, volleyball court, and baseball diamond.

It is a gorgeous area that gets a lot of use during the spring and summer months. And with all that use comes the need to eventually make repairs and upgrades, which is what the next approximately five months will involve.

Noble Excavating Incorporated informs us that they will be working on the McNamara Road from Johnsrud Park to Whitaker Bridge. The construction will include reconstruction of the road, drainage improvements, guardrail, paving, and a gabion basket wall - basically a metal cage filled with rocks or other earthen materials. Gabions are often used as retaining walls.

The much-needed project will begin right after Memorial Day Weekend, May 31. Its estimated completion date is by October 31.

During that time, the road will be closed to the public between Messina Drive and  Whitaker Bridge. Traffic will be accommodated between Johnsrud Park and Messina Drive with delays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We know there are going to be a lot of unhappy campers. Well, okay, maybe not campers since Johnsrud is a day-use only site. But you get the idea. Patience and respect are going to be needed from the park's users.

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