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Project Overview

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is preparing to replace Sportsman’s Bridge on Montana Highway 82 (MT 82) northwest of Bigfork. This narrow bridge crossing the Flathead River was built in 1955. It was not designed to accommodate today’s larger vehicles or the increased traffic due to the growth in population and tourism in the Flathead Valley.

MDT will replace the existing 686-foot-long bridge with a new 706-foot-long structure featuring two 12-foot travel lanes and two 10-foot shoulders. The new bridge will be built next to the south side of the existing structure. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2025.

Flathead River Bridge Typical Section

Relocation of the Sportsman’s Bridge Fishing Access Site

As a result of shifting Sportsman’s Bridge to the south, the Sportsman’s Bridge Fishing Access Site (FAS) located on the east bank of the Flathead River will be impacted, reducing the amount of shoreline and eliminating the existing access to the FAS. MDT has been working with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) to reduce this impact.

The existing FAS was initially planned to be modified and upgraded near the same location on the east bank of the river. However, after listening to public feedback and assessing available options, FWP is considering developing a new FAS on the west side of the Flathead River, off Oldenburg Road. This location offers many benefits, including:

  • Increased access: Public access sites on Flathead Lake and the Flathead River are used heavily throughout the year and are consistently at or over capacity. The new location on the west side of the river would provide space for more parking and shoreline.
  • Ease of Access: The intersection of MT 82 with Oldenburg Road is preferred by both departments for its ease of access and safety features, compared to the alternative at Hanging Rock Drive.

The new FAS will include:

  • A new, concrete low-water boat ramp.
  • Parking area with:
    • 38 truck/trailer parking stalls.
    • 10 standard vehicle parking stalls.
    • One ADA-accessible parking stall.
  • An Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible dual-stall restroom.

New FAS Access at Oldenburg Road with MT 82 Intersection

In anticipation of the FAS being relocated to the west side of Flathead River, engineers are assessing the design of left- and right-hand turn lanes on MT 82 at the intersection with Oldenburg Road to improve access to the new FAS.

Turn Lanes at Hanging Rock Drive with MT 82 Intersection

Initial plans for the new FAS being built on the east side of the Flathead River included turning lanes being constructed on MT 82 at the intersection with Hanging Rock Drive. Construction of the new left- and right-hand turn lanes at Hanging Rock Drive will continue as planned.

Fishing Access Site layout


The possibility of relocating the FAS to the west side of the river has delayed the Sportsman’s Bridge replacement project. The new FAS must be built first to create space for the new bridge to be constructed. This also ensures that the public has continued access to the Flathead River.

Bridge construction is now anticipated to begin in 2025. This schedule is subject to change due to funding availability, completion of the final design, economic conditions, and possible unforeseen factors.

During the construction, traffic will continue to travel on the existing bridge until the new structure is complete. There will be minimal to no traffic impacts.

Before construction begins, MDT will host an open house where the community can view final plans, learn more about the upcoming construction, and meet and ask questions directly to the project team.

The public is encouraged to reach out with thoughts and questions by calling the project hotline at 406-207-4484, operating Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by emailing sloaneXYZbigskypublicrelationsABCcom.