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FEMA approves $7 million project to rebuild 3 Carbon County bridges

Temporary Bridge
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 17, 2023

RED LODGE - FEMA has approved a $7 million project that will rebuild three different bridges in Carbon County.

The project will fix the Meeteetse Trail Bridge, as well as the northern and southern part of the East Side Bridge. All three bridges were washed away during last summer's historic floods.

For residents living near the Meeteetse bridge, like Sherrill Sandmire, it's a day she won't soon forget.

Sandmire

"It is devastating to see your bridge gone," Sandmire said. "It was pretty shocking to come back and see it was gone."

Sandmire was in Billings when the flooding happened. When she returned to Red Lodge, the bridge that led her to her home, and the nearly 20 other properties in the area, had vanished.

"It was tough just because we get set in our ways and have that safety net of the ways we always go," Sandmire said. "It threw us off our route and made life a little more difficult."

Fortunately, Sandmire and her neighbors found an alternate route, and for the last few months they've been using a temporary bridge that is just large enough to fit a car.

Temporary Road

"I guess that's probably why I didn't get so worked up in a way," Sandmire said. "I mean, yes, we were damaged a little bit, but there are a whole lot more people that were a lot worse off."

And the good news is that permanent fixes will soon be coming to the area. FEMA approved a $2.5 million project that will rebuild the Meeteetse Bridge. A project that Carbon County Commissioner Bill Bullock said is very important.

"When you need to cross a river, the only thing you need really is a dedicated bridge," Bullock said. "That award from FEMA, again it's just monumental."

The agency also approved $2.2 million to fix the southern part of the East Side Bridge, as well as an additional $2 million to fix the northern part of the East Side Bridge.

Bullock said that rebuilding all three of the bridges will help the community return to normal, but he knows that there is still much more work to be done.

Bullock

"There's a lot more to do," Bullock said. "I mean you can go from Fromberg all the way to Roscoe and the East Rosebud. Everything that we can do, humanly possible, we are doing. We'll get there. It's just going to take some time."

For now, Sandmire is grateful for the funding and hopeful that her county will continue to get the help it needs.

"It'll be nice to have the bridge back," Sandmire said. "It's pretty great that FEMA came through with that and it's going to help out. I know Red Lodge needs the help, and not just that but everywhere that was affected."