Montana Department of Transportation

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Higgins Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation

Project Overview

On Tuesday, May 26, the Montana Transportation Commission voted to award the Higgins Avenue Bridge contract to Sletten Construction for $16.5 million. This allows the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT)'s downtown Missoula construction project to move forward with work in the fall of 2020.

Construction will likely begin in October and run through the calendar year; continuing through most of 2021. The project is then anticipated to be fully wrapped up in the spring of 2022, after final striping, painting, and paving have been completed.

Traffic in the downtown area may see Sletten or their subcontractors working. This work will primarily consist of surveying work and outreach to the adjacent landowners. No disruptions to traffic are anticipated prior to October.

Beginning in October, crews will begin working on the southbound lanes of the Higgins Avenue Bridge. One lane of traffic in each direction will utilize the northbound lanes of the bridge. This first phase is anticipated to last from October 2020 through May 2021.

Once the southbound section of the bridge has been completed, traffic will be swapped to the newly completed segment of the bridge while crews construct the northbound lanes. This second phase will run from May 2021 through December 2021. The goal will be to have both lanes of the bridge complete by the end of calendar year 2021 and to complete final paving, painting, striping, etc. in the spring of 2022.

As fall construction approaches, more information will be provided to the public as the contract and schedule are finalized.

The original bid for the Higgins Avenue Bridge was not accepted by the Montana Transportation Commission on December 20, 2019. At that time, the sole bid submitted for the project was $37,708,483.03, more than double MDT's estimate of $16,697,189.06. High cost and the ability to adjust the contract to secure lower bids were cited as the main reason the commission did not vote to award the project. As a result, construction on the Higgins Avenue Bridge did not start in January 2020.

The Transportation Commission is a board of five members appointed by the Governor.

MDT would also like to remind drivers that the Higgins Avenue Bridge is still structurally sound and delays in the construction schedule pose no risk to the traveling public.

All are encouraged to contact Big Sky Public Relations with questions at 406-207-4484 or by emailing Katie at . The Montana Department of Transportation and Big Sky Public Relations will continue to coordinate with affected business owners, organizations, and community partners regarding the construction schedule to limit impacts wherever possible.

The Higgins Avenue Bridge provides access to the heart of downtown for students, residents and visitors to the Garden City. Whether you're heading to the Hip Strip on foot, cruising to Out to Lunch on your bike, or driving to a meeting downtown, the Higgins Avenue Bridge is a key connector for all modes of transportation.

The Montana Department of Transportation is rehabilitating the Higgins Avenue Bridge to make this a safer and more spacious bridge for everyone. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2020.

Higgins Historic Bridge image
Image courtesy of University of Montana
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The Higgins Avenue Bridge is deteriorating. Rehabilitation is necessary to extend the life of the bridge. The deck concrete is distressed and needs to be replaced, the steel structure elements need repair and/or replacement, and the entire steel portion of the bridge needs a new protective coating of paint.

The bridge now carries far more bicyclists and pedestrians than can be comfortably accommodated. While the bridge is safe for use now, MDT has prioritized rehabilitation of the bridge so it remains in safe condition.

The Montana Department of Transportation, Federal Highways Administration and the City of Missoula are committed to good stewardship of the Higgins Avenue Bridge.

The Higgins Bridge is safe to use, and is inspected every two years. The Higgins Avenue Bridge rehabilitation will make necessary improvements to the bridge long before it would become unsafe for the public to use.

Higgins Avenue Project construction phase 1
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Recommended Pedestrian Route

Higgins Avenue Project Recommended Pedestrian Route image
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