County seeks permission to access Reserve Street Bridge land for trash removal

David Erickson

Rivers in western Montana are expected to crest in the coming weeks and several groups are trying to stave off an environmental disaster at the Reserve Street Bridge in Missoula.

Used by scores of unsheltered people for years, much the land beneath the bridge is owned by the Montana Department of Transportation. It has been inundated with trash and camping supplies that threaten to spill into the water as the spring floods arrive.

Missoula, like most places in Montana and across the country, has been dealing with a severe affordable housing crisis in the last decade. The pandemic also forced more people to sleep unsheltered for their own safety. As a result, the Reserve Street Bridge land has continued to see use even as the city and county have worked with other agencies to open up legal and sanitary camping spots nearby.

On Tuesday, the Missoula County commissioners signed off on a letter to the Department of Transportation as a way of starting action.

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“In light of the environmental concerns MDT raised in its recently filed court action, Missoula County is writing to request MDT’s

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