The Blackfoot Valley Dispatch is the only newspaper devoted to Lincoln, Montana and the upper Blackfoot Valley and has been the best source for local news from Lincoln, Ovando, Helmville and Canyon Creek since 1980. With a circulation of more than 650 in 37 towns across Montana and in 25 states, we reach an estimated 1500 readers each week. We are member of Montana Newspaper Association and are working hard to provide our readers with the best possible local news and advertising. We appreciate feedback, so let us know what you think and how we can improve.You can contact us at 406-362-4131 of by email at email@example.com Check our new ' Recent stories' page for selected stories from recent editions
Aug. 10 Headlines
Rotten pilings close Dalton bridge Gianforte sees need to rein in frivolous lawsuits
Fire activity slows; new team takes over management of Lincoln-area fires Op/Ed: GOP focuses on responsible budgeting in lean times Old Lincoln townsite sign vandalized, removed Grants Available for Powell County Non-Profits Lincoln Volunteer Ambulance receives HACF grant, waiting for word on two others Hot to keep your Dutch oven clean The heavy burden of cold war childhood Bus wash caps off busy summer for Pounce kids
Rotten pilings close Dalton bridge Traffic detouring to Stemple Pass Road via Herrin Lakes
Hope Quay Residents along Dalton Mountain Road were in for a surprise last Friday afternoon, when representatives of Lewis & Clark County came knocking on their doors to inform them of the closure of the Dalton Mountain bridge. The Montana Department of Transportation contacted the county at 4:40 p.m. Thursday, ordering the bridge’s immediate closure due to failing timber piles, County Commissioner Susan Good Geise told the BVD on Friday. The bridge is one of just two public bridges spanning the Blackfoot River at Lincoln. Geise and County Director of Public Works Eric Griffin spent all of Friday in Lincoln, handing out fliers, visiting with people and attempting to inform as many residents as possible prior to the bridge’s closure, which took place around 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. “We wanted to get on this right away,” Geise said. Of the bridge’s 30 piles, nine are compromised, and four are in serious enough condition to make closure a necessity. Typically, the MDT inspects all of the county’s bridges every two years, but Jackson said the MDT has been inspecting the Dalton Mountain Bridge on three month inspection cycles since early 2016 and has been in communication with Lewis and Clark county about plans for repairs. The county has been monitoring the bridge, which was built in 1956 and last repaired in 1997, for years, Griffin said Friday. “We had had plans to repair it all year, and it was just due to conditions unforeseen that it got to a point where the MDT…they looked at it this past couple of weeks and I got a letter yesterday at 4:40 saying ‘close the bridge,’ so I’m up here closing the bridge now,” he said. “I don’t think we ever expected it to come to…full closure, because they were going to do some work on it,” said Amanda Jackson, bridge management engineer and supervisor of the MDT’s bridge management section. “They’ve had a fix plan for it that they were going to do this year, they were just waiting on getting permits done, and we finally hit a tipping point that we had to close it.” The rotting piles were covered in a timber pier wall - boards nailed to the piles all the way across the bridge - that obscured the full extent of the decay until 2016, Jackson said. “We got them to tear some of those planks off when we started looking at it more closely, so we were able to watch it more,” she said. “We’ve been watching them, but once those piles start to go bad they go pretty quick…I was really hoping they could get it fixed before we had to close it, but it just didn’t happen.” Jackson said the damage to the bridge is due to aging timbers and was not a product of the July 6 earthquake or other factors. “It’s just natural deterioration. We’re having the same issue on a lot of our state-owned bridges. All of our timber bridges were built around the same time and the piles are just starting to go bad,” she said. “We did inspect it right after the earthquake. I wanted my guys to take a look at it, so they made a special trip up there the day after the earthquake and they couldn’t see any damage or any signs of issues due to the earthquake.” Griffin said plans are being made for temporary repairs that restore some use of the bridge, and will be carried out as soon as possible. “Everybody’s scrambling today to figure out the details…we understand greatly the inconvenience, the safety issues…all that is involved. So this is our top project,” he said Monday afternoon. “I hate making these kinds of decisions,” said Jackson. “They’re so tough, because I know I’m affecting people…but we’ve got to keep it safe.” Until repairs can be made to the four defunct piles, all traffic will be detoured from Stemple Pass Road, to Herrin Lake Road and then to Dalton Mountain Road. Grading, watering and dust control was scheduled to begin on Herrin Lake Road Tuesday, Griffin said. He said there has also been talk of lowering the speed limit on Herrin Lake Road, in the interest of safety, as usage increases. “We’re still kind of trying to evaluate that,” he said. “We’ll be up there Wednesday night and we’ll have solutions, we’ll have a discussion, and we’ll all kind of work together to get through this time.” A public meeting to discuss further details was scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Library.
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