Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Missoula County Engineer Shane Stack had hopeful news for the hundreds of residents and homeowners who have used the Maclay Bridge over the years to cross the Bitterroot River, until the bridge was recently closed for safety reasons.

I spoke to Stack on Wednesday who provided these details on the planned repairs to the now temporary bridge.

County Engineer Shane Stack on Maclay Bridge Repair Project

“We're expected to start repairs next week,” began Stack. “We'll probably start on the west end and remove the deck and stringers on the west end of the main span. We have the stringers in Missoula now, which is great news. So we'll be able to get the new stringers down. We've got the deck pans for that main span on the west end.”

As his crews awaited the arrival of the material necessary for the repairs, Stack explained his plans and the potential problems ahead.

“Here's the challenge,” he said. “We're still waiting on the deck pans for the pony truss, (that’s) the small segment of the bridge that we had to do repairs on, so those are expected to be in probably three to five weeks from now. That gives us a range of time. But in the meantime, we'll probably do removal of the existing asphalt and concrete on the entire length of the bridge.”

Stack provided somewhat of a goal to have the temporary repairs completed.

The Bridge Could be Ready for Travel by the end of April

“Really what we're waiting on right now is just the deck pans for the pony truss, and once we have those will really be able to go pretty quick, however, the bridge deck will probably be completely torn up for the next several weeks and with the goal of having it (the bridge) opened up by end of April.”

That all being said, Stack emphasized the fact that the Maclay Bridge will eventually be replaced, as has been the plan for many years.

READ MORE: Missoula Officials Say Maclay Bridge Could Reopen Soon

Stack said a New Bridge will Connect River Pines Road and South Avenue

“Certainly it’s a temporary repair,” he said. “The goal for the county is to have a bridge that would connect River Pines (Road) and South Avenue. It will be a two-lane bridge with pedestrian and bicycle facilities rather than an old single-lane structure. It's still up in the air what would happen with the old structure. We're going through the NEPA (National Environmental Police Act) process and the Section 106 process to determine what would happen with the old structure. However, the main goal is to get a new South Avenue Bridge constructed and hopefully that starts in the summer of 2026.”

Stack said many in the area are studying the possibility of preserving the old Maclay Bridge however, high river flows could pose a hazard to the river and the surrounding area.

LOOK: Most dangerous states to drive in

Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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