If you're taking your dog for a walk downtown this summer, you better make sure you don't cross the newly-installed Beartracks Bridge on Higgins. The Montana Department of Transportation recently stated that the surface of the pedestrian and bike path gets very, very hot in the sun - so hot that it could burn your dog's feet if they're walking across.

On a recent hot day in Missoula, the temperature on the surface of the bridge was measured at 147 degrees Fahrenheit, over 40 degrees higher than what they measured on the nearby sidewalk.

So what's the reason for this spike in heat on the bridge? It has to do with the material that it's made out of. Rather than using concrete, the city elected to build the bridge with fiber-reinforced polymer deck panels because they're lighter and can be extended out farther with less work. It's a popular material for bridges throughout the world, and it doesn't seem like this has been a problem anywhere else.

The Montana Department of Transportation says that they're working on a solution. In the meantime, signs have been placed on either side of the bridge which read, "Direct sunlight can increase the surface temperature of this sidewalk," which go on to warn people that if it's too hot for your own feet, it's too hot for your pet's.

It remains to be seen what solution MDT will come up with for the bridge, although the Missoulian article linked above mentions the possibility of a roof being placed over it. Have you noticed how hot the bridge has gotten over the past few weeks?

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