Missoula’s Larry Martin loves his rural neighborhood.
“A huge new bridge on South Avenue would completely change the rural character of this area,” Martin says.
He’s angry about a proposed plan to replace the Maclay Bridge. One of the three choices comes too close for comfort.
There are two different South Avenue bridge options. The suggested plan has the bridge coming through this flood plain area of Martin’s property.
“If they go with south, they're going to go through a lot of people's property, and affect the entire neighborhood,” Martin says
But county leaders hired a contractor to find the best choice with the least environmental impact.
Jean Curtiss says, “We asked, actually at the request of the people who live in the Target Range area to do what they call a pre-NEPA study. And that allowed way more public input.”
Curtiss says there’s plenty of time to talk about the four bridge plans. Two call for moving it, one for fixing it and another for leaving it alone.
Neighbors are meeting to plan their attack. They worry a new bridge will increase traffic, encourage speeding and make their neighborhood more dangerous. Then there’s the money. Martin says a new bridge simply costs too much.
“Right now the bridge is estimated at $9.2 million as of the latest plan,” Martin says. “But that does not include an EIS, an environmental impact statement. That gets us to about 10 million. And then there are a lot of safety mitigation issues.”
Curtiss isn’t saying which plan she wants.
But neighbors like Martin plan to fire back in their push to keep their land neighborhood rural and the bridge where it is.