County Commissioners to host public meeting on condition of county bridges

Roundhouse Bridge connecting Roundhouse Road with Upper Spring Creek road was replaced last year. The Fergus County commissioners are asking for public input on other bridges that need to be replaced.

Photo courtesy of Fergus County

Fergus County Commissioners will host a meeting in Lewistown on Friday, March 9, to discuss with the public the next phase of the County’s Bridge Replacement Program. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. in the commissioner’s office, on the second floor of the Fergus County Courthouse, 712 W. Main St.

The Commissioners have identified at least one bridge, Forest Grove Road over the South Fork of McDonald Creek, six miles southwest of Grass Range, they would like to see replaced.

The Forest Grove Road Bridge is a steel and timber frame structure built in 1979. Current bridge issues include heavy decay in the timber abutments, deep cracks throughout the timber piles, and rust present on all steel girders. At this time, the bridge is posted for a weight limit of 11 tons. The bridge has been deemed functionally obsolete by the Montana Department of Transportation.

Comment on this selection, and any other bridge needs, will be taken at the meeting. Potential plans for replacement of the Forest Grove Road Bridge and other bridges, what the projects will involve, and how replacements will be funded will be discussed. Anyone interested in the project is encouraged to attend the meeting, ask questions, and offer their comments. The information gathered during the hearing will be included in the preliminary engineering report being prepared for the County by Stahly Engineering and Associates.

The PER will provide the County with a document used in a grant application to the Treasure State Endowment Program, subject to approval for funding by the Montana Legislature and Governor Steve Bullock. Over the last several years, Fergus County, assisted by Stahly Engineering, has utilized TSEP grants to replace a number of County bridges, including Cottonwood Creek Bridge, Warm Spring Creek Bridge, Timberline Bridge, and most recently, Roundhouse Road Bridge.

TSEP applications are rated by the Department of Commerce and presented to the Legislature for its consideration. The grant process is extremely competitive, and applicants must demonstrate their project will solve urgent and serious health or safety problems, is vital to their community, is financially feasible, and stimulates strong public support. When Fergus County residents take an active role in selecting and planning the replacement of vital infrastructure they rely on for their safety and the safety of their family, friends and neighbors, the likelihood of success increases significantly. People unable to attend the meeting on March 9 are encouraged to send their written comments to the Fergus County Commissioners at 712 W. Main St., Lewistown, Montana, 59457.

For more information, please contact the Fergus County Commissioners at 535-5119, or Kathy Thompson, Project Engineer for Stahly Engineering, at (406) 522-8594.

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