Missoula commuters who rely on the river front trail will have to make some changes starting March 1st.
The city will only close small parts of the trail at a time to clear brush and trees from the banks as a part of routine maintenance of the levees along the river.
Trail closures will only happen on the north side of the Clark Fork River. Trails next to active work areas will be closed weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Work will start at the Madison Street Bridge and move to the west in 3-5 day increments with sections closed in these locations:
- Madison Street Bridge to just east of Kiwanis Park.
- Along Kiwanis Park to the east end of Bess Reed Park.
- Along Bess Reed Park and Caras Park to east of the carousel.
- From east of the carousel to the Orange Street Bridge.
- From the California Street Bridge to the Russell Street Bridge.
"When large trees grow on the slopes like cotton wood trees, they can rip out large sections of bank so if they do that to a levee it would damage its integrity and it would cost a lot to rehabilitate it," Regulatory Compliance Manager Tracy Campbell said.
There are two levees along the Clark Fork that will see maintenance. Levee 3 between Madison and Orange street and Levee 5 between California Street and Russell.
But the city is running into some issues near Caras Park. With construction on the Higgins street bridge they are having a hard time finding proper detours around trail closures.
"There are some routing that has to happen through parking lots or other areas that might not be considered ADA accessible so we had to go the route of issuing the closed trail notices," Campbell said.
The city says it will do its best to post signs marking the detours they have planned, but some spaces will remain fully closed.
"Leaving it up to individuals to find the best routes for them," Campbell said.
While the maintenance may cause some headaches for commuters, clearing of brush and trees is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain the integrity of both Levees.
After the maintenance is complete the Engineers from the Army Corps will be inspecting the levees for reaccreditation.
"If they are no longer accredited any businesses and homes protected by the levees would be forced to get flood insurance or their rate will increase," Campbell said.
The city says this project will last from March 1st to April 15th, weather permitting.