Rock Creek bridge replacement near Wisdom expected this year

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Replacement of two washedout bridges on Rock Creek Road near Wisdom will likely happen later this year.

The nearly $1.1 million project would replace bridges 77 and 79, which cross the Big Hole River along Rock Creek. Bridge 79 was partially washed out by high water in spring 2017. A temporary bridge has been in place since then. The bridges are needed to access agricultural and recreational needs on the west side of the Big Hole Valley.

Great West Engineering President Bill Lloyd updated the Beaverhead County Commissioners on the project at the Feb. 1 commission meeting. Lloyd said the design process for the two bridges is underway, and Great West hopes to bid the project in March. But due to fisheries restrictions, work likely will not be able to begin until July.

“I don’t think we can do anything there until this fall,” he said. “They just won’t let us in the stream.”

Engineers are also working through new floodplain mapping, and must show the Department of Natural Resources that the bridge work will not change the floodplain maps or alter water levels. Once that is done, the company should be able to get permits to do the work.

The project is funded through a $500,000 Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) grant, and a $385,000 Montana Department of Commerce Delivering Local Assistance (DLA) grant. The remaining cost will be covered by some of the county’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) dollars and in-kind work from county road crews.

Engineers will also need to coordinate with the county road department to ensure their work aligns well with the contractors putting in one of the bridges. Lloyd said he thinks road staff probably will not be able to put their bridge in until later in the fall.

Separately, the commission approved extending Great West Engineering’s on-call contract for services with the county for another year at the Feb. 8 meeting.