Missoulian: Rattlesnake bridge gets federal funds for replacement

by Griffen Smith

The Lolo Street Bridge in the Rattlesnake received funding for a complete bridge replacement, Sen. Jon Tester’s office announced on Monday. 

The bridge has been slated for replacement since 2022, according to Missoula County’s website

Tester’s office said in a press release that almost $3 million in funds from the bipartisan infrastructure law will go to the bridge replacement. The money was allocated through the P.R.O.T.E.C.T. Discretionary Grant Program. 

Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said in the release that federal funding has been essential to supplement the county’s bridge replacements, many of which are reaching a century in age. 

“The Lolo Street Bridge provides vital connectively in Missoula’s Rattlesnake neighborhood, which is especially critical during evacuations related to wildfires or other disasters,” Strohmaier said in the release. “We’re grateful to Senator Tester for helping craft the bipartisan infrastructure law that will provide this crucial funding, and we appreciate his support as we continue to seek federal assistance for infrastructure needs throughout the county.”

Public work’s director Shane Stack said the city of Missoula will still have to pay roughly $735,000. He said the project still needs to get environmental approvals and finish the design before construction starts.

Designs for the bridge replacement still need to be drafted and bids for the project still needs to be secured, according to the county’s website. 

In March, Tester’s office announced plans to fund a connectivity and safety project between Missoula and East Missoula, totaling $24 million.

The bipartisan infrastructure act has allocated roughly 2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways and bridges, Tester’s office said.

Several other bridges still need replacement countywide. The Boy Scout Road Bridge in Seeley Lake has been closed since last fall because of structural issues. 

Several other smaller bridges in the Seeley, Swan and Blackfoot valleys have been combined into one project with the hopes of securing a 20 million federal RAISE Act grant. 

In Missoula, the county plans to reopen the McClay Bridge after completing repair work this spring. The bridge has been in talks for replacement for decades, and a project to place a new bridge at South Avenue is in progress. 

The county is currently working on Rock Creek Bridge near Clinton, which needed erosion maintenance to keep it stable.