Montana Department of Transportation

Malcolm “Mack” Long, Director

COVID-19

View the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force site for more information.

Active Project

Higgins Bridge logo

Higgins Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation

Project Overview

A temporary ten-ton weight restriction is in place on Beartracks/Higgins Avenue Bridge. All vehicles weighing more than ten tons will be rerouted. Digital message boards are in place to indicate detour routes. Mountain Line buses are being rerouted to accommodate existing stops.

The bridge remains safe for pedestrians, cyclists and all vehicles weighing less than ten tons.

The Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is often posted on the vehicle (such as the door jamb) or listed in the owner manual. For trailers, the GVW might be shown on a plaque near the tongue. The posted GVW limit of 10 tons includes the combined weight of the vehicle and any trailers it may be hauling.

Most standard passenger vehicles do not come close to the ten-ton weight limit. The graphic below illustrates the average weight of several vehicle types. As a reminder, two thousand pounds equals one ton.

weights by car type table

The first phase of Higgins Avenue Bridge construction is complete. The west side of the bridge, nearest to the Wilma building, is now open to all modes of traffic.

Please be mindful that the surface of the expanded shared-use path can become extremely hot on days with heavy direct sunlight. Please take precautions to protect your feet and your children and animals’ feet before crossing the bridge on these hot, sunny days. Our team painted a white concrete stain to decrease the bridge temperature as a short-term solution. We will continue to investigate further long-term solutions.

Construction has shifted to the east side of the bridge. Sletten Construction crews are working to replace the existing bridge deck to widen the travel surface. While construction is underway, travelers will use one lane in each direction on the west side of the bridge. This second phase of construction is anticipated to last through the fall of 2021.

We know that you'll likely have questions about this project. The project team will host public ZOOM meeting on the dates listed below. These will be held at 12 p.m.

Zoom meeting information:

Our goal is to have all lanes of the bridge complete by the end of 2021 and to complete all finishing touches (paving, painting, striping, etc.) in the spring of 2022.

Please do not hesitate to contact the project team regarding any questions or comments by calling 406-207-4484 or by emailing Kristine at kristine@bigskypublicrelations.com.

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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