Missoulians will likely give more than their two cents at a meeting over the future of an historic bridge Thursday night.

Feelings are strong, and have been for decades, over what to do with Maclay Bridge.

The picturesque, one-lane artery over the Bitterroot River, connects Missoula's greater west side with Big Flat Road.

At Thursday's hearing, planners will present options and recommendations of a year long study.

The study suggests building a new bridge off South Avenue.

Research found Maclay Bridge is in need of repair, and obsolete, too narrow to handle the area's swelling traffic.

Planner Lewis Yellowrobe leafs through three inches of documents, a year's worth of work, much of it borrowed from documents on Maclay Bridge dating back to 1994.

The summary whittles down to four options.

"The four options are improved safety and operations," said Yellowrobe," rehabilitation, build a new bridge and do nothing."

Doing nothing means everything stays the same.

The bridge would get continued routine maintenance.

Rehabbing would involve more intense infrastructure bridge repair.

That would improve the bridge, but in the end, it would still be the same one lane structure.

The study suggests building a new bridge at several locations.

Its recommendation is to build one off South.

Orville Daniels has lived near the bridge for 34 years.

He thinks Missoula needs a new bridge at South Avenue, and that the old Maclay Bridge should be dismantled.

Daniels said 70 years ago photos prove the pier that's surrounded by sandbars and willows used to be right in the middle of the river.

Now, said Daniels, the river is only half as wide.

It's created dangerous conditions, said Daniels.

"Drowning in the river is a big issue for me," said the retired Forest Service director,"
 as is the fact that we have totally changed the channel of this river, and we've changed the morphology and flow. Environmentally," said Daniels,
"that's wrong."

Many like the slower pace of the bridge, the fact that drivers have to wait for a few seconds before entering it if there's another vehicle headed their way.

They love its picturesque profile.

"You got the mountains," said Jake Degenstein,"and the river, visually I would say keep it as it is."

Degenstein enjoys fishing on the river and taking pictures of the bridge.