Temporary bridge may be in place by Dec. 7


A Great Falls construction company has been awarded a contract to build a temporary bridge over the Milk River on U.S. Highway 2 between Havre and Chinook to replace one that collapsed last week.

Tamietti Construction won the contract with a bid of $82,000, beating out three other companies, according to Montana Department of Transporta-tion public information officer Lisa Vander Heiden. The contract sets a Dec. 20 deadline for the project, and includes a $5,640 incentive for each day the bridge is completed before that.

Construction crews will work in two 10-hour shifts each day until the project is completed, according to an MDT press release. Traffic could be using the bridge as early as Dec. 7.

The company's owner said today that he anticipates the bridge will be finished by no later than Dec. 9.

"I obviously would like to get it done quicker than that, and I think we will, but we're saying the ninth," said Bill Tamietti, adding that about 20 construction workers will be involved in the project.

The Milk River bridge collapsed last Tuesday during a traffic accident involving two tractor-trailers. The bridge closure has forced motorists to use a 7-mile detour over gravel roads.

MDT accepting bids to repair or rebuild the bridge on Friday, and Tamietti was awarded the contract Monday.

"It's the fastest contract I've ever seen let in this agency," MDT Great Falls district administrator Mick Johnson said during a press conference Monday afternoon.

The efforts of a number of agencies within MDT enabled a quick response to the problems created by the collapsed bridge, MDT director Dave Galt said in a press release.

"I appreciate how the department, the state's contractors and the Engineering Council all pulled together to address this situation," he said. "Reopening Highway 2 in early December will be possible because of their efforts."

The temporary bridge will likely have a speed limit of 45 mph, and will be able to support full loads, Johnson said Monday.

A permanent replacement bridge will likely be built by next fall, Johnson said, adding that he expects MDT to hire an engineer to design the new bridge by Christmas. The permanent replacement will be located 60 feet south of the existing structure. Whether the bridge is four or two lanes will depend on the outcome of an environmental impact statement being prepared for improvements to Highway 2 between Havre and Fort Belknap, he said.

The bridge, which will be constructed prior to the proposed highway improvement project, will be designed so it can be easily modified to accommodate four lanes, Johnson said.

State officials closed a 5-mile section of U.S. Highway 2 immediately following the collapse of the bridge. Traffic is being routed on a detour along Logie and Clear Creek roads. Traffic traveling today will have an additional detour of 15 miles while state and Blaine County road crews lay gravel on a 2-mile section of the regular detour.

The gravel work should be completed in one day, and traffic will begin using the main detour Wednesday, MDT district maintenance chief Dave Hand said. Havre Daily News reporter Tim Leeds contributed to this story.


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