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Crews remove Pipe Bridge at old Smurfit plant in Frenchtown

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Jan 08 2013 10:57:21 AM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Crews dismantled another visible landmark at the old Smurfit Stone paper mill in Frenchtown.

The pipe bridge, which carried steam, no longer spans Mullan Road.

For decades, anybody driving Mullan past the mill drove under it.

M2 Green, which purchased the land for redevelopment has razed several major buildings on site.

The pipe bridge's removal makes way for an even bigger change on the landscape.

The pipe bridge was connected to Recovery Building 4 and 5, the most prominent structure on site.

It stands 170 feet tall.

It's expected to be imploded.

Removing the bridge clears the way.

"There were a lot of pipes inside there (the bridge) said Jack Shelton from Otto's Crane Service. "They cut all the pipes out. Now, it's just an open box. We can take it down and set it on the ground."

Crews prepared the site early Monday morning.

Traffic on Mullan was detoured.

A welder began severing the bridge.

A crane held it in check, then, after it was severed, slowly lowered the long section to the ground.

A millwright who used to work for Smurfit is happy to see a job well done.

But Randy Evans called it a sad day.

"This was a really excellent mill," said Evans," It provided a good product. It employed a lot of people and it's just the end of the timber industry in Montana almost."

More than 400 workers were idled when Smurfit closed 3 years ago.

Watching the old mill disappear in pieces upsets a lot of people in Frenchtown.

But M2 Green said clearing the land paves the way for new manufacturing.

The company said existing infrastructure and rail service are pluses.