Madison Street Bridge Rehabilitation
January 2017 – August 2017
Challenge: The Madison Street Bridge Rehabilitation project (MSBR) posed a unique challenge for Frontier West and
Montana Department of Transportation. While significant traffic counts on a bridge in a metro area are not unusual, the
positioning of the Madison Street Bridge in the Missoula community is distinct. As the gateway to the University of Montana,
the bridge has a disproportionatenumber of young adult users. Add to that Missoula’s pedestrian and bicycle culture, a high
daily, vehicle volume and an extremely engaged community, all to be reached in a short period of time due to the fact that
the project was fast tracked by MontanaDepartment of Transportation when portions of the bridge deck began dropping on
the Kim Williams trail system below. The planning process for the bridge was based off prior bridge studies and engineering
know-how but the urgency of repair meant public involvement had to be conducted near the end of the planning process, just
six weeks prior to the first public awareness efforts rolled into action.
Approach: Big Sky Public Relations started by identifying approximately 30 stakeholder groups and influencers likely to be
most impacted by MSBR, ranging from emergency response services and the City of Missoula to the
Missoula Downtown Alliance and University of Montana. Over the course of four weeks, our team met with representatives
from these organizations to identify and resolve potential issues likely to crop up during construction and to elicit stakeholder commitment to serve as community partners, working with our team to push updates out to their audiences. The public
involvement not only mitigated potential issues, it engaged a powerhouse outreach network, which has fully engaged through
the public awareness phase of the project. The following public awareness campaign had a diverse cross-section of methods and media designed to college students, area commuters, adjacent business and residents. Public awareness efforts started
with an open house and large media push and is supported on an- ongoing basis by highly targeted digital and social media
advertising, broadcast advertising, weekly email and website updates, bi- weekly public meetings, robust media relations
outreach and complaint mitigation.
Results: The Madison Street Bridge Rehabilitation public involvement and public awareness efforts created an overall positive community and stakeholder response. The City of Missoula’s communications manager, Ginny Merriam, shared
recently that the City did not receive even one complaint about the project, an unlikely feat given the project’s location and
significant impact on the traveling public.