The Woodside Pedestrian Bridge has been delayed, according to the Montana Department of Transportation's District 1 Office in Missoula.
Ed Toav, the district administrator, said the river scours in that area of the bridge, so the project needs more analysis to figure out what will be the best design. He expects the design work should be completed in the winter of 2019, with the project built during the summer of 2020.
The original bridge at Woodside was built in 1954 and is a narrow two-lane with just enough room for two vehicles to pass. There have been several accidents on the bridge between vehicles, pedestrians, and people riding their bikes.
In October 2015, a project was approved to build a 330-foot-long pedestrian bridge across the river to connect the pedestrian trail to Corvallis on the east bank and to the trail along Highway 93 on the west. At that time, the project was estimated to cost about $1.2 million.
Tonia Bloom and the Corvallis Civic Club made the efforts to get the project approved. Bloom worked with local engineer Roger De Haan and county road department engineer John Horat to write the federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant that was submitted in 2013 and approved in 2014. The Ravalli County Commissioners supplied the $6,000 in required matching funds in 2015.
On Thursday, Bloom said she knew about the delay. She was told it was because the better course of action may be to replace the entire bridge, making it wide enough for safety of vehicles and pedestrians – similar to the bridge at Stevensville.
“I think the concept of replacing the entire bridge and replacing it with one that has a pedestrian lane is a good outcome,” she said. “I would not like to see the solution to the safety issue delayed.”
Bloom said they wrote the grant because the possibility of replacing the bridge and adding the pedestrian lane was decades away and safety issues needed to be addressed sooner.
“The Civic Club, school district, and all citizens who have been in favor of increasing pedestrian safety at Woodside - our main wish is whatever solution the Department of Transportation ultimately decides on that it not be delayed,” Bloom said.