Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Michel Road Bridge opens near Ronan

By Adriana Fehrs

The decrepit Michel Road Bridge had outlived its safety and usefulness, and was replaced recently. (Adriana Fehrs Photo) The decrepit Michel Road Bridge had outlived its safety and usefulness, and was replaced recently. (Adriana Fehrs Photo)

RONAN — Construction of the joint bridge project between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and several other agencies finished on January 24. A ceremonial construction tape cutting for the Michel Road Bridge opening took place at 1 p.m. on January 29. Michael R. Brown, the Roads Program Director for CSKT, spoke on the joint effort of the bridge construction and the positive impact the new bridge will have on tribal land development, the Ronan City Water, and residences of the area needing essential services such as ambulance, fire, propane, and garbage.

Pink construction tape stretched across the span of the newly finished Michel Road Bridge. The ceremony began with a small crowd of fourteen consisting of fellow CSKT Road program employees, CSKT Natural Resources Department Head Rich Janssen, Smith Paving and Contracting employees, CSKT communications director Robert McDonald, and reporters gathering around Mike Brown. We stood in 32 ° F weather as a blanket of snow continued to build while he explained how bridge came to be.

Lake County Commissioner Bill Barron cuts the ceremonial pink construction tape deeming the new Michel Road Bridge “open”. (Adriana Fehrs photo) Lake County Commissioner Bill Barron cuts the ceremonial pink construction tape deeming the new Michel Road Bridge “open”. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

The first step began with funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian Reservation Road Program in order for CSKT to attain a contractor – which was Smith Paving and Contracting of Polson. CSKT then received the right-of-way and permission to build the bridge from both Lake County and the City of Ronan. Permission from the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project, to build on the canal, was also obtained. Next, DJ&A Engineering produced the plans and specifications for the bridge. On September 30, 2013 construction of the bridge began. Central Premix, of Spokane WA, manufactured the Tri-deck beams that provide the support for the bridge.

The cost of the bridge construction was approximately $361,000, and consists of five Tri-deck beams, new concrete abutments, new approach and bridge guardrails. The new bridge is 30 feet wide by 54 feet long, and is now serviceable by any legal load vehicle.

A black truck is one of the first vehicles to cross the newly constructed Michel Road Bridge. (Adriana Fehrs photo)A black truck is one of the first vehicles to cross the newly constructed Michel Road Bridge. (Adriana Fehrs photo)

Mike Brown and Rich Janssen believe that the new bridge will help give service vehicles faster access to the Ronan City water collection and Treatment plant that lies on the other side of the bridge; it was previously inaccessible by large trucks and vehicles. The seventeen residences that lie beyond the bridge will now have better access to essential services such as ambulances, fire trucks, propane trucks, and garbage trucks. If new tribal development occurs in that area, the bridge will contribute to faster construction. They estimate an average of twenty to thirty vehicles per day will use the bridge.

Even with a one-week hiatus taken in December during the coldest part of the month, construction finished on time.

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