Old Steel Bridge Spanning Flathead River in Kalispell to Be Replaced

Mon April 14, 2008 - West Edition

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) A 114-year-old bridge spanning the Flathead River near Kalispell will soon be closed and work on a replacement will begin.

The Old Steel Bridge was built in 1894 as the first crossing on the upper Flathead. The 600-ft. (182 m) span was built with steel overhead trusses and timber.

State transportation officials say the new bridge will span 720 ft. (219 m) and be built of welded plates and girders.

Sletten Construction of Great Falls has been awarded the $8.7 million contract.

Plans to replace the old bridge have been in the works for years. In 2005, the bridge was found to have structural problems, most notably rotting wood planks. Emergency repairs allowed the old bridge to remain open — with a weight limit requiring one vehicle to cross at a time.