At their regular meeting on Dec. 29, 2014, all three Madison County commissioners voted unanimously to approve a scope of work from the Montana Department of Transportation for the Blaine Spring Creek bridge replacement.
“The existing bridge will be replaced with an overhead steel truss superstructure in similar appearance to the existing bridge that will be supported by a new foundation system,” according to the meeting minutes.
“Making the new bridge look like the current structure was a popular sentiment throughout the area,” commissioner Jim Hart said. “Folks, whether they are local residents or seasonal fishermen, said that bridge is the aura of the area that has been there for 100 years.”
The county received $700,000 in 2010 from a Treasure State Endowment Program grant to replace the bridge, which is located just west of Varney Bridge near the Madison River south of Ennis. Though the project is estimated to cost more than $2 million when finished, the county is only responsible for $250,000, per an agreement with the MDT. The MDT will cover all expenses except for the $700,000 from the TSEP, $250,000 from the county and approximately $65,000 from private donations, Hart said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 and is estimated to last six months or less.
“The bridge is literally falling apart,” Hart said, explaining why the replacement is necessary. “The Varney Bridge is in even worse shape, but in order to eventually work on the Varney Bridge we need to take care of this one first.”
Commissioner Dave Schulz moved to approve the scope of work, and the motion was seconded by commissioner Jim Hart. All three – Schulz, Hart and commissioner Dan Happel – voted in favor of the motion and the MDT’s scope of work was approved.
“There are still more questions to be discussed, like whether we can move the bridge north or south a little bit to take the wetlands in that area more into consideration,” Hart said. “We still have to look into a few things like the slope of the road, so we don’t encroach on private property.”