WEST GLACIER, MT. – In late May, a delivery truck bringing new mattresses to the Many Glacier Hotel struck one of the historic “bridle bridges” in the Many Glacier area. The collision tore half of a load bearing girder beam off the bridge. In a separate accident a week later, the other trail overpass was struck by a construction vehicle.
The overpasses are located across the Many Glacier access road near the upper and lower ends of the parking area, and are used for pedestrian and horse traffic.
Glacier National Park, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, has completed structural assessments to assess bridge safety. Those assessments determined that the upper parking lot bridge was not safe for pedestrian and horse travel. During the assessment period, engineers discovered that the interior of the girders on the upper bridge were rotten. It is likely that those beams were part of the original bridge construction.
The park has temporarily dismantled the upper parking lot bridge, and is seeking funding along with the Federal Highway Administration to rebuild it with new girders once funding is secured. The replacement bridge will likely use many of the existing bridge materials and will likely match the profile of the original overpass. The other bridge that was struck required minor repairs that have already been completed.
Horseback rides that previously used the overpass will cross the road at the upper end of the Many Glacier Hotel parking lot with traffic control this summer.
The Many Glacier Trail Overpasses are a contributing element to the historic character of the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District. Constructed in 1914, the bridle bridges were designed to provide visitors and employees safe access across the entrance and exit roads to the hotel.