County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier Is Supporting The Agenda Of The South Street Bridge Obstructionists

by William Skink

On Friday the city of Missoula marked the opening of two access points for the West Broadway Island. While the city touted this unnecessary use of public money to build a bridge meant to increase recreational use with the hope that meth heads and other addicts will decrease their use of the area, Missoula County has a different bridge problem.

The big story in the Missoulian on Sunday is the continued stalling efforts by the small contingent of selfish property owners hell bent on stopping the creation of a new bridge at the end of South Street. Instead of the bridge being built where all the studies indicate it should be built, these obstructionists insist that rehabbing the “functionally obsolete” Maclay bridge is the way to go.

What I don’t get is how a situation where school buses and fire trucks that exceed the 11 ton weight limit of the bridge has been allowed to fester year after year. I suggest reading the whole Sunday piece in the Missoulina. Here is a portion:

The Maclay Bridge is classified as “functionally obsolete” by state and federal standards. Because it is a one-lane bridge on a two-way street, it has a recommended 100-vehicle-per-day limit. In 2010, the state counted an average 2,610 vehicles per day.

The weight limit posted on the bridge is 11 tons. The school buses that drive over it each day, four times a day, as they ferry children to and from Big Sky High School and Target Range School weigh around 11 tons empty.

The Missoula Rural Fire Department’s trucks are only allowed to cross it on the way to emergency situations, at a 5 mph crawl, but must go a different way back to the station, as some of the trucks are more than double the posted weight limit.

The Missoula Rural Fire Department puts their firefighters at risk every time they crawl 5mph across this obsolete bridge. Is Missoula County ok with that? The Target Range school district puts school kids at risk every day those heavy buses go over that bridge. Is the school board ok with that? How about Beach Transportation, are they ok with their drivers crossing a bridge that will be closed this week to patch literal holes?

The Missoulian article goes on to essentially expose Dave Strohmaier for being a deceitful player in this two decade long obstruction effort by his South Street pals. Strohmaier boxes himself in with his own words. Here’s more from the article:

Since Maclay Bridge replacement or rehabilitation options were first investigated in 1994, the South Avenue Bridge project was identified as the best option out of 16 studied, including various rehabs and leaving the bridge as is.

That conclusion came after examining environmental impacts, cost-benefit ratio, impacts to private property, and a whole host of other factors. Three different rehabilitation options were rated the worst projects for investment. The rehab options could cost $14 million if the roads are brought to modern safety standards, and that would have to be paid for by the county and its residents, as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has made it clear it will not fund that option.

Despite this, Strohmaier remains a strong advocate for finding a way to rehabilitate the bridge. He said he would not support any option that forced people from their homes, and that no rehab options would meet federal standards. But he said it’s not accurate for people to accuse the county of stalling the review of studies needed to move the project forward before funding goes away.

“For the most part these documents have been in the possession of the Montana Department of Transportation for the better part of a year under their review,” Strohmaier said.

What Strohmaier didn’t mention is that the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) was spending those months addressing questions and criticisms — 31 pages of them — that he raised about the work.

I am beyond angry over the bullshit pouring from Strohmaier’s mouth because what he is essentially saying is that the status quo of a few property owners is more important than the safety of my kids. I’m not going to stand for that.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier Is Supporting The Agenda Of The South Street Bridge Obstructionists

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