The Missoula City Council approved a project during Monday night's meeting that would build a massive walking bridge that will span South Reserve at Old Highway 93.

Missoula Redevelopment Agency Director Ellen Buchanan said the project will cost about $5.1 million in tax revenue increment bonds to complete.

"The concept for this bridge has been around for years, but the catalyst was the Tiger grant that the county was given to complete construction of the Missoula to Lolo Trail," Buchanan said. "The bridge would create a crossing over South Reserve Street that would be safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.An on-grade crossing would not only be dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists, but would be a large inconvenience for traffic to be stopping to let people across."

Buchanan said there were two alternatives considered for the crossing, one that would go underground, while the plan that was approved on Monday night was a bridge that would span the roadway.

"Both Parks and Recreation and the police department were opposed to an underground tunnel, primarily for security reasons," she said. "Users wouldn't be able to see from one side through to the other, and because of security, it would probably have to be gated at night."

Buchanan said the bridge would also have a removable center section to allow oversized loads to negotiate through the roadway.

"The center section can be removed, at the user's expense, to allow access," Buchanan said. "That's no different than them having to move traffic signals and road signs that they would have to deal with whenever an oversized load would have to go through."

One city councilor opposed to the bridge was Ward Two's Adam Hertz.

"I don't think it's a project that makes financial sense," Hertz said. "I prefer the underground crossing, that would be about a fifth of the cost and would still have allowed traffic to flow normally, and would have saved the taxpayers millions of dollars."

Buchanan said construction of the bridge would probably be completed by the end of summer, 2016.