Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - News of the Maclay Bridge closure is not only inconveniencing residents on the west side of Missoula Valley, it's also thrown a potential monkey wrench into the route for this summer's Missoula Marathon.

But marathon organizers aren't pushing the panic button, saying they're monitoring the situation and will adjust the course as needed, if the bridge remains out of commission this summer.

The problem stems from Missoula County's order to close the bridge last week after the aging structure failed to pass its latest safety inspection.

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The bridge is key to the marathon route

Maclay Bridge has always been a key connecting point for both the half and full marathons. The half marathon uses the span to turn the corner after starting on Blue Mountain Road and heading back into the city. For the full marathon, the bridge is critical to allowing the runners to stay on secondary roads from Frenchtown, across Big Flat, and then turning back into town.

Losing the bridge could force the runners to remain on the east side of the Bitterroot River.

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

Still some unknowns

But Missoula Marathon Race Director Trisha Drobeck says it's too soon to begin looking for other routes at least until the county determines whether there's a way to rehab the bridge so could at least handle pedestrian traffic.

"We're kind of in a holding pattern at the moment, as are all the residents in the area," Drobeck explained. "Hopefully by week's end, we should know if repairs, temporary repairs, are feasible, both financially and if they can be done."

"Regardless I'm sure we'll have to make contingency plans."

Been here before

This isn't the first time the marathon has had to cope with bridge issues. For the past three races, organizers had to adapt to the Beartracks Bridge project at the marathon finish line. And Drobeck is confident the team can adapt.

"I think we can come up with a sweet course if we are pressed to," Drobeck said. "I think wherever we run, it's the people that make the difference."

More information could come this evening, with Missoula County holding an open house about the Maclay Bridge's future from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional office at 3201 Spurgin Road.

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Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

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