London, 1854. Population growth overwhelmed public health infrastructure. Clean water was unusual. The uninformed disease theory was that “miasma” caused cholera. Dr. John Snow advocated to local government about the outbreak’s source. He concluded that disease came from the Broad Street Pump. Turns out, the well was 3 feet from a cesspit and germs do, in fact, cause disease. Simple solution: Remove the pump handle and people were healthier.
Missoula, 2019. Population growth is overwhelming the functional obsolete, fracture-critical Maclay Bridge. It is an attractive nuisance and legal liability. Dangerous behavior and traffic accidents at each end burden our law enforcement, who protect the public from the unsafe infrastructure that has caused the scour hole.
Missoula County taxpayers paid the bill for a bridge-jumper who crashed into a floater passing by in 2013 at Bandmann Bridge. There is a plaque from 1984 on Maclay’s pier to 16-year-old Walter Brickell, who drowned in the scour hole where others have met the same fate. The plaque’s inscription says "reach out and help."
Commissioners, I sincerely hope you learn from history and help. Like removing the handle, follow the science and remove the bridge. Missoula will be healthier.