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Twin Bridges, Montana

Historic bridge heads to Milltown 
By Sherry Devlin of Montana Lee Newspapers, December 17, 2002


After a century spanning the Jefferson River, the Silver Star bridge will be moved to Milltown Reservoir on Wednesday for what Bruce Hall hopes will be a second century on the Clark Fork River.

Tamietti Movers will transport the bridge in two 92-by-18-foot spans along state Highway 41 and then Interstate 90 for the 150 miles from the bridge's first home at Silver Star -- midway between Whitehall and Twin Bridges -- to the eastern end of Milltown Reservoir. 

That's where Bonner Development Group, of which Hall is the executive director, wants to use the bridge to give bicyclists, pedestrians and horseback riders safe passage across the Clark Fork River. The Silver Star bridge represents about half the span distance needed for the crossing. 

The idea, Hall said Monday, is to connect Two Rivers Community Park with the Kim Williams Trail, thereby replacing the "Duck Bridge" that locals used for years before it was demolished by Champion International Corp. 

The new bridge will not be open to cars and trucks, but will be strong enough to give emergency vehicles access across the river, Hall said. 

Built by the Continental Bridge Co. in 1910, the Silver Star Bridge was given to Bonner Development Group by the state Department of Transportation. In doing so, the state saved about $16,000 on demolition costs. 

Grant money has financed design of the full span across the Clark Fork, Hall said, but more work is needed to secure all the necessary state and county permits. In the meantime, the bridge will be stored at the park. 

The full 491-foot span is about a $500,000 project, he said, which means more fund raising is ahead for the development group. 

Hall said the ongoing Superfund cleanup process at Milltown won't affect the bridge work. (The reservoir is polluted with metals and arsenic washed down the Clark Fork River from mines and in Butte and smelter in Anaconda.) 

"My attitude is we'll do whatever we can do, working with the pertinent agencies, to get the bridge up,'" Hall said. "Worst case, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) could design its cleanup around the bridge being put up. That's what I am going to strive for." 

"The community here has a strong interest in seeing this bridge go back up," he said. "There is a lot of local support for this project."

Copyright Sherry Devlin and Montana Lee Newspapers, reproduced by permission.

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