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Drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists should expect delays and detours in the Russell Street Bridge area starting next week. 

Northbound drivers will not be able to turn right off Russell Street onto West Broadway beginning Monday.

Lane reductions and detours are planned for Russell to make room for temporary traffic signals as the Montana Department of Transportation prepares to transition traffic onto the new Russell Street Bridge. Dick Anderson Construction will be tearing down and replacing the adjacent old one this year.

It’s one of a handful of road-construction traffic and river disruptions around Missoula that start the week of April 15.

Interstate 90 travelers east of Missoula will be slowed and directed onto the new eastbound bridge over the Blackfoot River as the second season of the Bonner Bridges project begins. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will close that stretch of the Blackfoot on Monday through mid-May for safety.

West of town there will be intermittent periods of single-lane traffic along the Frenchtown Frontage Road as a multi-use trail is completed, guardrails are installed and landscaping work is done along the 11-mile stretch of road from Huson east to U.S. Highway 93.

Russell Street: That right turn onto Broadway will be nixed until vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic is swapped to the new bridge in May, said Katie Klietz of Big Sky Public Relations.

Detour signs will direct northbound drivers in a loop — three blocks north on Russell, a left-hand turn onto Birch Street, another left at the signal light at Broadway and Mullan Road, then back east on Broadway toward downtown Missoula.

MDT’s Bob Vosen said delays will be limited as much as possible, but drivers should plan on longer commutes for the next few months if they use the route.

“We understand that limiting access along the ... project area will cause some delays, especially along Broadway, and we are committed to doing all we can to minimize these impacts,” Vosen said. “We need to install temporary traffic signals to finish the roadway between the new bridge and Russell and Broadway streets. The temporary signals take up some room and we made the decision to reduce travel lanes for the safety of the traveling public.”

While right-hand turns onto Broadway will be prohibited for only a few weeks, the temporary signals will operate until the bridge is fully constructed and permanent signals are installed.

Once two-way traffic is diverted to the new bridge in May, only right-hand turns will be allowed off River Road south of the bridge for the duration of the project. Drivers trying to get onto River Road from Russell Street will be detoured west at Wyoming Street, then north on Curtis Street to River Road. There will also be intermittent closures on Liberty Lane north of the bridge. The detour will be on or off Broadway from Cooper Street near the McDonald's restaurant.

Bonner Bridges: The project to replace two interstate bridges and remove existing piers from the Blackfoot River at its confluence with the Clark Fork began last spring and, weather permitting, will be completed this fall. Demolition of one of the old piers will be underway over the next month, hence FWP’s river closure to all usage from Monday, April 15, until late spring. The closure applies to the stretch of the river from Weigh Station Fishing Access just north of Bonner to the confluence.

Motorists are already encountering single lane closures and speed zones from  the Bonner interchange (Exit 110) to just past the second bridge deck. 

“We want to remind everyone traveling through the area to slow down,” said Ed Toavs, MDT’s Missoula District Administrator. “Pay attention to all the posted signage and drive carefully as you cross over the Bonner Bridges. For river users, make sure you sign up for email or text alerts for notifications about river closures throughout the summer.”

A pedestrian path that's being constructed under the five bridges will connect the Gateway and Confluence sections of Milltown State Park. It’s closed until the bridges are complete.

“While we are continually evaluating the pier removal process, the bridges and the pedestrian path are all on schedule for completion this year,” Toavs said.

Frenchtown Frontage: The 11-mile road that parallels I-90 near Frenchtown is rebuilt after a busy 2018 season. Now comes completion of the pedestrian-bike path alongside and, in the summer, chip-sealing of the last stretch of roadway. Schellinger Construction will start next week placing topsoil throughout the project to prep for future seeding. Preliminary work to private approaches will resume ahead of paving of the path when warm weather arrives. 

Final guardrail work is planned at O’Keefe Creek and Mill Creek roads. Flaggers will be in place for intermittent periods of single-lane traffic. Plan on taking extra time or using an alternate route if possible. Traffic won’t be delayed between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

National Work Zone Awareness Week ended Friday, but its reminders remain: Slow down, be alert and use caution in work zones.

Gov. Steve Bullock designated the week in remembrance of Jeffrey Dykeman, Billings District engineering project manager for MDT. Dykeman, 52, was hit and killed last October while working along I-90 south of Billings.

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Mineral County, veterans issues

Outlying communities, transportation, history and general assignment reporter at the Missoulian