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Traffic Impacts

Although no complete closures are planned, traffic may be delayed and significant traffic congestion is anticipated. Using alternative routes, whenever possible is suggested. Detours for non-motorized users will be marked to ensure connectivity throughout the course of the project.

Bridge Design

The current bridge has not kept pace with Missoula's growing population. Beyond increasing traffic volumes, the existing Russell Street Bridge has narrow, crumbling sidewalks, low guardrails, and no bike lanes. Throughout the public involvement process, the community stressed the importance of including bicycle facilities, sidewalks, and public transit area improvements that connect to the trail system. Incorporating better sidewalks, bike lanes, and increased lighting into the Russell Street Bridge design will create a safer bridge for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Construction is slated to start in April 2018. Work will begin with construction of the new bridge, a structure 2.5 times larger than the existing bridge. The new bridge will provide two southbound and two northbound lanes with raised medians and improved signal devices at the Broadway Street intersection, which will create a safer, more efficient intersection.

Trail Improvements

A priority of the Russell Street Bridge project, along with delivering a safer bridge and roadway for the traveling public, is creating better connection and access for the community. Several exciting improvements have been incorporated to accomplish this goal.

Milwaukee Trail Crossing – Russell Street
Connecting the community is at the heart of the Russell Street Bridge design. Not only are roadway and bike lanes being improved and widened, but better Milwaukee Trail connections will be established to ensure those traveling on bike or foot can access their destination safely and more efficiently. Paved trails, including a 106-foot arched and lit undercrossing for the Milwaukee Trail at Russell Street, will provide safer access for trail users and allow for more continuous vehicle flow on Russell Street. This undercrossing will be located near Dakota Street.

South Undercrossing - Russell Street Bridge
On the south side of the Clark Fork River, a new trail crossing will allow for pedestrian and cyclist access down to the riverfront and will provide a connection to River Road under the Russell Street Bridge. This access point will offer easier connections to the south Riverfront Trail system, McCormick Park and the California Street Pedestrian Bridge. This upgrade will include an attractively designed and well-lit undercrossing.

North Undercrossing - Russell Street Bridge
On the north side of the Clark Fork River, MDT will build a paved crossing under the Russell Street Bridge to provide access on the east side of the bridge leading up to Russell Street. There will also be a new staircase on the northwest side of the bridge leading down to the Clark Fork River. Like the other trail improvements, this upgrade will feature a well-lit and esthetically pleasing improvement. It will also create increased connectivity to the east and west for pedestrians and cyclists accessing the Riverfront Trail System.

Bicycle Lanes

Beyond new vehicle lanes and improved trail access, raised bicycle lanes, approximately 5.5 feet in width, will be constructed on both sides of Russell Street from Dakota Street to Broadway Street. The raised bicycle lanes will be clearly marked for traffic traveling both north and south along the corridor. Lanes are located behind crash railings along the bridge as an additional safety feature for cyclists and pedestrians.

Careful Construction

Work on the new bridge will be completed in multiple phases to allow for continual use of the current bridge during construction. Initially, while the eastern portion of the new bridge is being built, two-way traffic will remain on the existing Russell Street Bridge. Upon completion of the eastern portion, single lane, two-way traffic will be moved onto the new structure and the original Russell Street Bridge will be demolished. Work will then start on the western portion of the new bridge.

Staggering construction ensures that one lane in each direction is available to vehicles throughout the project.

Common Questions

How long with the project last?

Utility work is the first step in the Russell Street Bridge project. Utility relocations will occur from February to April 2018. Construction is then slated to begin in April. The first half of the bridge is scheduled for completion in December 2018, weather permitting, with the large majority of work to be finished by December 2019.

How will traffic be handled? Should I expect long delays?

Once construction starts in April, significant traffic delays and detours will go into effect. Planning extra travel time and using alternate routes, whenever possible is recommended.

Will there be pedestrian access during construction?

Yes. The Montana Department of Transportation will maintain bike and pedestrian facilities throughout the duration of the Russell Street project.