Missoula gets go-ahead to explore changing downtown rail bridge to bike/pedestrian use

David Erickson

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency is another step closer to creating an additional car-free, walkable and bikeable connection across the river near downtown Missoula.

Ellen Buchanan, the director of the agency, told the board of commissioners last Thursday that converting the railroad bridge emerged as a top priority for funding when judged against other potential projects in Urban Renewal District II. The bridge, which connects West Broadway near the Fresh Market grocery store on the north to McCormick Park and the baseball stadium on the south, hasn’t been used in roughly a decade by Montana Rail Link to run trains down to the Bitterroot Valley.

“We got the green light the day before yesterday from Washington Companies and Montana Rail Link to move forward with feasibility evaluation and preliminary engineering if it proves to be feasible, to take the railroad trestle over the Clark Fork River right now to the Bitterroot line and create a dual purpose facility that turns it into a bike/pedestrian trail,” Buchanan said.

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However, Buchanan said the permission comes with the stipulation that whatever work is performed on the bridge must

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