A section of the Swan River is closed to recreation, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Announced Friday, June 29, FWP adopted the emergency closure of Swan River near the Montana Highway 209 bridge in Ferndale “due to hazards in the water,” according to a press release.
The closure is located from the Swan River fishing access site to the north of Highway 209.
Currently, the Highway 209 bridge is under construction and a temporary bridge exists.
“The temporary bridge has unique abutments that combined with high-water levels is catching debris and creating swirling waves,” FWP stated.
Sletton Construction, a construction company headquartered in Great Falls with an office in Missoula, is handling construction of the bridge, according to Sarah Knobel of Big Sky Public Relations.
Knobel added that more accidents and capsizing can occur under the temporary bridge.
Lake County Undersheriff Ben Woods confirmed that up to four accidents in which people have gotten “hung up on the scaffolding” of the bridge have been reported.
The first of the accidents, Woods said, ended when a 3-year-old child was rescued by a citizen. In that incident, Flathead Search and Rescue was deployed.
The closure will remain in effect for 120 days or less, if the river is deemed safe, and fishing from the shore remains possible.
The Ferndale is 55-years-old and has needed significant improvements.
Multiple attempts at mitigating hazards have been made by FWP, including through news releases, social media notifications and signage and navigational buoys, all of which have “proven ineffective,” FWP stated.
While portaging around the bridge is not possible, boaters can launch on the Swan River just north of the bridge.
The Ferndale Bridge is 55 years old and has needed “significant” improvements.
To ensure the safety of the river, piers supporting the bridge will be removed.
As crews complete this process, a traffic structure was erected in the Swan River to accomodate traffic on Montana Highway 209.
Construction of the bridge is anticipated to be completed in November 2018, weather permitting.