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Roads re-open after Smelter Avenue bridge was damaged by a truck

Smelter Avenue bridge and the 15th Street North underpass
Smelter Avenue bridge and the 15th Street North underpass
Smelter Avenue bridge and the 15th Street North underpass
Posted at 11:05 AM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 13:08:45-05

GREAT FALLS — The Smelter Avenue bridge and the 15th Street North underpass in Black Eagle were closed for most of Tuesday due to a hay-hauling truck clipping the underside of the bridge, causing some damage.

The Montana Department of Transportation quickly responded to the incident to repair the damage and open the road back up.

“This is a girder that was redesigned I believe in 2005 or a little sooner. If it is hit, we can do things like we did today to get it out and to get the bridge open back up again,” said Bill Lay a bridge inspection manager for the Montana Department of Transportation.

There are several signs right before the bridge that warn oncoming traffic of the height limit, and it is the driver’s duty to know whether or not it is safe to drive underneath.

“There’s a sign right on the bridge and there’s another sign right up there at the intersection. You’ll see a diamond sign that hangs over the highway, above that is a sensor, and if someone is too high, the sensor goes off and that sign flashes and pretty much says, exit the road, you’re too high” explained Lay.

Smelter Avenue bridge and the 15th Street North underpass

He and his team worked fast, and the bridge and underpass are now cleaned up and open for traffic once again.

The incident was originally reported to the Montana Highway Patrol as a "hit and run" crash.

A few minutes after it happened, several people reported to KRTV that the suspect vehicle had been pulled over along River Drive North between 15th Street and 25th Street.

There is no word yet on what charges or citations the truck driver may be facing.