HELENA — The old Toston Bridge spanning the Missouri River is approaching a century of service.
Built from 1919 to 1920, the steel truss bridge bridge is 525 feet long with each of the three trusses spanning 175 feet.
Other than occasional replacement of the timber deck, the bridge is unchanged from its original construction.
In 2005, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and the total cost of building the old Toston Bridge was around $71,000.
Just to the northwest of the old bridge, the Montana Department of Transportation is currently working on a new bridge for Highway 287.
The Toston Structures project is budgeted for $41.5 million and includes three and a half miles of new roadway that will create a four lane, with shoulder, bridge over the Missouri and connect with the nearby passing lane sections.
The State of Montana is only paying around $3 million for the project, with the remainder coming from federal funding and a BUILD grant.
The goal of the project is to address traffic needs and improve the safety of the road.
“Part of the reason that they’re redoing the bridge is that the alignment on that bridge is dangerous,” said Becky Bey, Toston Structures Project public information officer. “It’s a really sharp turn. The new bridge will actually have additional lanes and it will be less of a curve.”
Included in the improvements are a new culvert for drainage, wildlife fencing and a pedestrian tunnel so people won’t have to walk across the highway.
The Toston Structures Project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.