Bridge with a view

Source of Article:

by Lynnette Hintze/ Daily Inter Lake


Web cam documents construction of new river span

Want to watch a bridge being built?

The Montana Department of Transportation has a Webcam providing real-time images of the new bridge being constructed to replace the Old Steel Bridge.

The bridge, a 720-foot crossing over the Flathead River east of Kalispell, was chosen as a trial project for the Webcam because of its complexity, the department said. The structure is being built with welded plates and girders and without overhead trusses and includes the largest drilled shafts ever constructed by the state.

It's an angled crossing, with a west bank approach farther south than the former approach. The eastern abutment will be in the same place. It will have two 15-foot-wide driving lanes and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk.

The $8.7 million expanse is on track to be finished by late summer. Sletten Construction of Great Falls is building the bridge.

Once the bridge is completed, Flathead County road officials are anticipating it will become a through-route to funnel East Valley traffic to Kalispell. The county has proposed a Rural Special Improvement District to pave a portion of Mennonite Church Road, which becomes Holt State Road west of Montana 35, because of the expected increase in traffic.

Traffic wasn't a problem in 1894 when the original bridge was put in place. In 2005 the bridge was found to have serious structural problems. An emergency repair project to replace rotting planks with metal plating allowed the bridge to remain open for only one vehicle to cross at a time.

The old bridge, with its steel overhead trusses, was the first crossing on the upper Flathead River and was a landmark before it was dismantled a year ago.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by e-mail at