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Twin Bridges residents concerned about impact of MT-41 closure on the community

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Posted at 4:51 PM, Apr 10, 2024

BUTTE — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) made an emergency decision to close down the bridge coming into Twin Bridges off Montana Highway 41 after an engineer inspected it and determined it was too dangerous to be used by regular traffic.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a pretty big inconvenience for a lot of people. You know, it’s going to hurt the economy in town a little bit too because there’s so many people that drive through here. You know, this is a busy, busy highway through here,” said Twin Bridges resident Rich Bayers.

The transportation department closed the bridge that connects with Montana 41 between Twin Bridges and Dillon the afternoon of April 8 due to a bridge failure. MDT reported the inspection deterioration to the bridge's concrete pier wall, resulting in a one-inch dropping of the bridge deck. Continued deterioration of the pier wall would increase the risk of collapse, according to MDT.

Some residents noticed someone inspecting the bridge that day.

“I took my little girls to gymnastics in Dillon and we were going across the bridge and a guy had his level out, and he walked across and it looked like he gave a little head shake like something wasn’t good,” said Austin Mailey of Twin Bridges.

Some residents are questioning if a megaload that was transported across the bridge last December may have played a part in the bridge failure.

“You know, maybe that weakened it or, we get, you know, a lot of ice jams in the winter,” said Holly Haithcox.

The MDT website reports the bridge could be closed until August, which could prolong the inconvenience to the small ranching community.

“It’s kind of wild, a lot of transportation goes across the bridge, a lot of semis, a lot of local people who live just across the bridge are probably a little frustrated,” said Mailey.

MDT said it has funding and is evaluating options to repair the bridge but has not set a timetable yet.