After years of debate Missoula County officials have decided the fate of the Maclay Bridge.
NBC Montana was at a meeting held by county commissioners Wednesday night to discuss which of the proposals would be chosen.
Recent studies show the current bridge is outdated and unsafe, and now officials have agreed to replace the bridge and move it to a new location.
The current one-lane bridge is at the west end of North Avenue. The new bridge would extend South Avenue over the river and connect to River Pines Road.
At that meeting plenty of people voiced their concerns about moving the bridge to the South Avenue location - they cited traffic and safety concerns near Target Range School as valid reasons to stick to the current location. Others claimed a South Avenue crossing would create a healthier river that can follow its more natural course.
“With the safety factors involved I think we’re looking at a more dangerous situation rather than a safer one,” said Missoula resident Michael Chandler.
“Save the river,” said Missoula resident Kristen Anderson. “Anyone who has spent any time on this river knows that the channel is different at the bridge - the bridge was cobbled together and was not designed for that location and it has damaged the river and the South Avenue location is a much more shallow stretch of river and the bridge would be designed for the location to avoid river damage.”
No word yet on what will happen with the old Maclay Bridge but we talked to County Commissioner Jean Curtiss who tells us the next step is to send a letter to the Department of Transportation so the design process for the new bridge can start.
NBC Montana will continue to follow this story and bring you the details as we learn more.