Delayed bridge project results in savings; delayed events center would result in disappointment
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Missoulian editorial

Delayed bridge project results in savings; delayed events center would result in disappointment

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A late gift of low-cost huckleberries to the delayed Higgins Avenue Bridge renovation project. Normally a lag in construction would not be welcome news, but in this case, the delay means summer travelers won’t have to contend with any holdups crossing the bridge, and as an unexpected bonus, a second round of bidding with the newly adjusted timeline landed a contract for $16.5 million — a sizable and welcome drop from the previous $37.7 million bid. Construction is expected to begin this October.

Uncertain chokecherries to the still-unfolding fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which is clouding the future of major development projects such as the $100 million hotel and performing arts center on the Riverfront Triangle site in downtown Missoula. The prime property has long been eyed for an event center, but no plans have panned out so far. That was on track to change at last this year with the possibility that work on the complex could begin as early as November. However, with the significant drop in tourism, concerts, conventions and even hotel stays, that hope has been put on hold — along with all the jobs and other economic benefits it would bring.

A timely delivery of huckleberries to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, which announced this week it will be receiving a $40,000 grant from the National Park Service to assess its World War II-era internment camp barracks. The grant will allow the museum to take full stock of two of its barracks and determine what it will take to fully restore them. In the meantime, the museum, which has been closed due to the coronavirus, is planning to re-open on Monday, June 1, to up to 10 visitors at a time, and with special hours reserved for vulnerable populations.

Chokecherries and heartfelt condolences to the two vehicle crashes over the Memorial Day weekend that resulted in Montana’s 37th and 38th highway fatalities of the year. A rollover crash near Hot Springs killed a 46-year-old woman, and another crash on Highway 35 claimed the life of a 24-year-old Polson resident. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones, and to the first responders who spent their Saturday evening cleaning up the wreckage.

Powered-up huckleberries to NorthWestern Energy for providing yet another round of assistance to lessen the impacts of COVID-19. In addition to its regular charitable donations and sponsorships, which exceeded $2 million in 2019, the utility has now committed some $400,000 in grants and energy bill credits to community organizations and small-businesses across the state, as well as matching employee donations to the Montana Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Editor Gwen Florio and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen. 

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