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Climbing inspectors complete a full inspection of the Dearborn River High Bridge on Dec. 20 in preparation for rail and deck repairs this week.

Climbing inspectors complete a full inspection of the Dearborn River High Bridge on Dec. 20 in this photo posted online by the Montana Department of Transportation. 

A historic bridge southwest of Augusta that was damaged earlier this month by an overloaded tractor trailer was reopened to the public late Thursday afternoon.

Lewis and Clark County officials said the 120-year-old Dearborn River High Bridge is again safe to use after they closed it on Dec. 12.

A tractor trailer believed to weight about 35 tons damaged the bridge deck and rails. The bridge is rated at 7 tons.

“In cooperation with the Montana Department of Transportation a detailed inspection was performed and subsequent repairs were completed by county personnel,” the county said in a news release. “The traveling public is reminded that the bridge is still weight restricted to 7 tons and located on a segment of road that is prone to winter closures.”

The county's director of public works Eric Griffin said it was too early to say how much the repairs cost or how many hours crews worked on the bridge.

Repairs were hampered earlier this week by subzero temperatures and drifting snow.

The unique, 251-foot bridge crosses the North Fork of the Dearborn River in a canyon about 15 miles southwest of Augusta on Highway 434. The county accepted a bid of $9,000 from King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio, for construction in 1897.

The Department of Transportation completed a $1 million rehabilitation of the bridge in 2003.

County officials have not yet announced whether any charges will be filed in connection with the incident.

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Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 @IR_TomKuglin

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Natural Resources Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter / Assistant Editor for The Independent Record.

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