The 120-year-old Dearborn River High Bridge southwest of Augusta, Montana, was closed until further notice after it was damaged by a tractor trailer, the Independence Record reports.
The 251-foot bridge, which carries Secondary Highway 434 across the North Fork of the Dearborn River, was constructed in 1897 at a cost of $9,000. The decking and railing of the bridge were damaged on December 12, 2017, by a tractor trailer believed to weigh 35 tons, which far exceeded the bridge’s posted weight limit of just 7 tons.
The Montana Department of Transportation and Lewis and Clark County are inspecting the bridge, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003. Lewis and Clark County Chief Administrative Officer Roger Baltz told the news agency that officials have not yet decided whether to pursue charges against the driver of the tractor trailer, but they plan to “fully investigate” the incident.
The stone, steel, and concrete bridge is an example of Pratt truss construction, according to the registration form at the National Register of Historic Places. “Few bridges in Montana have drawn as much attention and interest as the Dearborn River High Bridge,” the form states, according to the news agency. “ … The bridge may be the only surviving example of this design in the United States.”
The Montana Department of Transportation completed a $1 million rehabilitation of the bridge in 2003.