Rating:
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Brookport Bridge

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Photos 

Overview

Photo taken by James Baughn

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Map 

Street View 

Facts 

Overview
Ten-span through truss bridge on US 45 over the Ohio River at Brookport
Location
Massac County, Illinois, and McCracken County, Kentucky
Status
Open to two-lane traffic
History
Built 1929
Builders
- Harrington, Howard & Ash of Kansas City, Kansas & New York, New York
- Rouse Construction Co. of Cape Girardeau, Missouri
- Union Bridge & Construction Co.
- Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Design
North to south:
Three Warren pony trusses
One Parker through truss
Nine polygonal, subdivided Warren through trusses
Four Warren deck truss spans
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 711.0 ft.
Total length: 5,385.8 ft. (1.0 mi.)
Deck width: 19.7 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.1 ft.
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Irvin S. Cobb Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.11465, -88.62915   (decimal degrees)
37°06'53" N, 88°37'45" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/355257/4108832 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Paducah West
Inventory numbers
IL 064-9901 (Illinois bridge number)
BH 15517 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 04/2012)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 44.9 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2012)
4,300

Update Log 

  • August 17, 2013: New photos from Ben Tate
  • October 15, 2012: New photos from James McCray
  • September 18, 2012: New photos from J.P.
  • March 31, 2012: Updated by Matt Lohry: Updated deck truss type
  • July 6, 2010: Updated by Nathan Holth: This is the correct Irvin S. Cobb Bridge.
  • March 14, 2010: Updated by Bill Eichelberger: Added Google Street View.
  • July 10, 2005: Posted new photos

Sources 

  • Bill Eichelberger
  • Nathan Holth
  • Matt Lohry
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • James McCray - jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Ben Tate - benji5221 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Comments 

Brookport Bridge
Posted August 10, 2014, by Eric Kinkhorst (erick [dot] bud [at] gmail [dot] com)

Me and a buddy rode over this bridge on Friday 8/8 on our way back from NC. Needless to say, he was kinda freaked out. You don't see many steel deck bridges anymore.

Brookport Bridge
Posted June 24, 2014, by Judy askew (mzmayor1038 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Continuing saga. The State of Kentucky finally found out that their Brookport Bridge had received such a hard hit that a girder was crumoled on impact with some large piece of equipment four days ago. We on the Illinois side had known about for six weeks. For more information, check either WPSD or KFVS.

Brookport Bridge
Posted February 4, 2014, by C. Conkle (msplinter1964 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Brookport Bridge closed due to heavy icing. Feb. 4, 2014.

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 27, 2013, by Zachary S

According to the local news sources it opened up again within a couple of days, so I would assume the closure was either to allow for emergency vehicles and keep sight-seers and non-residents from interfering with the disaster scene, or to check for possible damage... which apparently didn't occur, if the tornado even HIT the bridge, as the bridge is open again.

Bridges this well-built can usually take a sideswipe from a moderate tornado now and then without too much damage, of course, as I remember the now-lost Johnsey Bridge in my county (turn-of-the-century basic single span through truss) being in rather poor condition yet still surviving a direct hit from an F3 in 2002 without being damaged significantly. Then again, there are many others that have been damaged or destroyed by strong tornado strikes.

Just for reference... the Brookport tornado was an EF-3; crossed from KY into IL and back to KY again (due to the arrangement of state lines here along the Ohio River) on its 42 mile long path, destroyed numerous mobile homes and a few site-built homes and commercial structures, and killed three people (the deadliest of the outbreak)

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 17, 2013, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Sounds like emergency vehicles are using it, so it may just be that they are trying to keep people out of town due to heavy damage.

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 17, 2013, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

Local TV is reporting "possible damage" to the Brookport Bridge after a tornado strike.

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 7, 2013, by K. A. Erickson

In seeing the images and street views it is theoretically possible to walk along the shoulders of the bridge thus getting out of way of oncoming traffic on the guardrails.

What likely happened was this.

A passing motorist calls the police to report an individual on the bridge acting strangely. They might suspect a jumper and so go to investigate. They find you and in conversing with accept your explanation without bringing up jumping. At this point they do not want to waste any more time with you and basically tell you to never do this again, it's off limits to pedestrians.

If there ever were any signs forbidding walking on the bridge they have long been swiped by metal thieves.

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 7, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

After walking on all the truss spans of this bridge and shooting over 300 overview and detail photos this past weekend I was approached by a cop who informed me that it was illegal to walk on the bridge (even though there are no signs posted) and was then escorted off the bridge. Fortunately I had all the photos I needed by that time! Not sure of the exact legal standing for restricting pedestrian access to a bridge that is not part of a limited access highway, but just wanted to give everyone a heads up that if you walk on the bridge you may have a close encounter of the police kind. That said, standing on the 700+ foot span, one of the largest simple truss spans I have ever stood on, was quite an impressive experience.

Brookport Bridge
Posted April 5, 2013, by John Goold (BlueWilliamus [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The thought that entered my brain when I saw this bridge was wow. What a spectacular bridge.

Brookport Bridge
Posted January 9, 2012, by Mike Bailey (intlwrecker [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I absolutly love this bridge! I live in Chicago area, but spent plenty of summers in Brookport. I could hear the sound of the tires all day and night. I think it is the coolest bridge around.

Brookport Bridge
Posted May 10, 2011, by Lyon Wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Brookport Bridge reopens for traffic again.

http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Brookport-Bridge-reopen...

Brookport Bridge
Posted May 8, 2011, by Dan

Brookport is currently closed, due to flooding on the KY side.

http://www.westkentuckystar.com/News/Local---Regional/Southe...

Brookport Bridge
Posted September 14, 2010, by Jim Thompson (guvjim [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I was born & raised in Brookport. Crossing the bridge was just part of (almost)my daily activities. Of course it was usually walking, since I had no car, and I never rode a bicycle over it. In those days, the bridge was silver, and paved. It was really tight at times when you would have two very large vehicles coming from opposite directions. I have, on many occasions, climbed to the outside of the bridge to let to semis pass. The curve coming into the Brookport side was probably one of the greatest hazzards for unsuspecting drivers. I usually would hitchhike, but if no one picked me up, I walked. We used to crawl to the underside at night to catch pigeons. Looking back, that wasn't the brightest thing I ever did. I suppose that the Irvin S. Cobb (Brookport) Bridge will always be an important part of my memories of Brookport. I moved away in 1953, went into the Airforce, ended up in Chicago & have lived in this area now since 1961, but my mind still travels South very often. The old saying "you can take the boy out of the country, but.............."

Brookport Bridge
Posted June 7, 2010, by Big B

We went out of our way to drive this bridge on our motorcycles due to its unique deck. It's not a problem if you are even halfway experienced with your bike.

Great bridge, great fun!

Brookport Bridge
Posted June 5, 2010, by Madison

Me and my dad got under this bridge today and I took some really cool pictures.

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Brookport Bridge
Posted June 2, 2010, by Chris

My wife and I took this bridge (not knowing anything about it) from Paducah, KY into Illinois while riding our Harley. A few days prior, we had crossed (3) bridges of the same width in KY on our way to Paducah. I thought those bridges were bad...they had nothing on THIS bridge! White-knuckle all the way across. I pray on a daily basis, but I've never prayed so much in my life while crossing this bridge! I've been riding 20-plus years, and this bridge scared me to death! I don't say "never" very often, but I'll NEVER ride this bridge again!

Brookport Bridge
Posted May 22, 2010, by Matt (Lotsastock [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I went out of my way just to ride over this bridge yesterday while on my way back to Chicago.. It was pretty cool! But it was so skinny that I didn't dare take my eyes off of the road (bridge) in front of me. I wanted to look out and around at the river and bluffs, but I was afraid that I'd hit the guard rail. It's a great bridge and I'll definitely take another ride over it when I get down that way again. It hums, bangs and clicks all the way across, but still an awesome bridge!

Brookport Bridge
Posted March 20, 2010, by Madison

This was bridge was actually in a movie called US Marshals.

Brookport Bridge
Posted March 13, 2010, by Madison

Here's a video of someone driving across:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_thhcuwEyY

Madison

Brookport Bridge
Posted February 23, 2010, by Madison

I've been on this bridge several times, and I'm not scared of it. Although, I love to spread the rumor to my friends that you'll easily die going over this thing.

My sister is currently learning to drive and we drove very close to the bridge.

I started shaking.

Not because I was afraid, just because her experience level wasn't quite there yet. She would have got us killed.

Madison.

Brookport Bridge Myths
Posted February 14, 2010, by Spork (590rkb0y [at] gmail [dot] com)

Having been over this guy on a bike (not a motorbike) twice, once with a full load, I can dispell a couple of these.

* Coke cans do not fall through the grating (unless you manage to drop it in one of several holes in the decking). What they do is flatten across the grating and become very slippery in the slightest of moisture. My 2" tire was wide enough to bridge those gaps.

* There is no directional pattern to the decking, so it couldn't possibly be on backwards. The noise you hear in your car is a result of the raised nubs on the surface. They're there for traction.

* This bridge sways less than a lot of shorter bridges. You have two options for a bridge: it can sway or crumble.

Brookport Bridg
Posted January 3, 2010, by river (river [dot] twin27 [at] Gmail [dot] com)

I saw tractor-trailer on the bridge. I think the truck driver took that route (highway 45) by mistake. There is no room for the truck to turn around because road is narrow and tight. The truck driver had no choice but moving. If the truck stopped, there would be a lot of problems because of heavy traffic. I saw the tractor -trailer went through on the bridge.

Brookport Bridge
Posted August 21, 2009, by R Miller (At [at] at [dot] com)

This bridge was horrifying on a motorcycle. I unwittingly rode north over this bridge last week in the middle of a 1600 mile road trip to the Tail of the Dragon in NC. That road was NOTHING compared to the awful nightmare near death ride that this miserable bridge provided.

Brookport Bridge
Posted August 21, 2009, by R Miller (At [at] at [dot] com)

This bridge was horrifying on a motorcycle. I unwittingly rode north over this bridge last week in the middle of a 1600 mile road trip to the Tail of the Dragon in NC. That road was NOTHING compared to the awful nightmare near death ride that this miserable bridge provided.

Brookport Bridge
Posted February 14, 2009, by oneoftheKlafferkids (sarahvandy [at] gmail [dot] com)

Like Troy said, the key is 45-50 mph and it is just another bridge that makes noise. If you know how to drive, you will be fine.

Brookport Bridge
Posted October 24, 2008, by MetroSupahGirl

Ugh I have lived in Metropolis my entire life and I absolutely HATE this bridge. Its way too narrow, the sound is nerve racking, and people drive across it way too fast.

I flat out refuse to drive across it. I dont even like being a passenger.

As many times as that thing has been hit by barges, it tends to sway a bit in the wind. If you have a choice, take the I-24 bridge. You'll be much more comfortable with your heart not up in your throat!

Irvin Cobb (Brookport ) Bridge
Posted August 18, 2008, by Taylor P.

MY Dad pulled a New Moon house trailer 8'x48', across the Irvin Cobb (Brookport) Bridge from up state Il. to Paducah In 1961.This was before the metal deck and before they widened it. He had 6 kids in the car and all our belongings in the trailer. It's a great bridge. I am an experienced biker and have no problems crossing the bridge on a bike...

Brookport Bridge
Posted June 17, 2008, by Anonymous

Riding across this bridge on a motorcycle isn't a problem if you're experienced.

Brookport Bridge
Posted June 17, 2008, by Boyd Bilderback (boydl4 [at] embarqmail [dot] com)

We crossed this bridge 06-16-08. The sign saying "attention motorcyclist" was not enough warning for anyone on a motorcycle. We never prayed so hard in our lives that we would make it over the bridge without either running head-on into oncoming traffic,dump the bike and get run over by a car behind us or hit the rail and get knocked down!!! This is the worse bridge we have ever seen for a motorcycle to have to cross. You need to post a warning sign that says no motorcycles should cross this bridge. Your sign does nothing to prepare a cycle driver for what he is going to have to do to keep his bike upright!! We wonder how many accidents with bikes have happened on this bridge.

Brookport Bridge by motorcycle
Posted June 5, 2008, by STUART (WADEHAWKINS [at] YAHOO [dot] COM)

My wife and I crossed this bridge by motorcycle. The warning sign was missing. Only the attn. motorcyclist was visible. My wife asked what I thought that it mean't and I said it probably means beware of high winds. However the sign at entrance of the bridge said, Steel Top bridge. Too late to stop, here we go. I didn't breathe the whole way over. I DO NOT RECOMMEND RIDING OVER THIS! It's a good story to tell though.

Brookport Bridge
Posted March 21, 2008, by Judy Askew (daskew5 [at] verizon [dot] net)

We love our old blue bridge. It is an adventure in faith every time you cross it. It's a standing joke that when the driver education people take students across, and only hit the side rails once, you've passed your drivers test. Twice, and you fail!

Brookport Bridge
Posted February 28, 2008, by brittany BITCH (x [dot] b3lla [dot] x [at] hotmail [dot] com)

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE A CURVE BRIDGE TO YOU!:@

Brookport Bridge
Posted October 24, 2007, by Cathy (chattycaffy [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This is an awesome bridge and has a spectacular view! However, that being said, we just crossed it on 10/20/07 on motorcycles! Never again! How can you go 45-50 MPH when the speed limit is 25! We are seasoned riders, but felt like we had no control! Is there a t-shirt that says, "We crossed the Blue Hummer and survived!"? ;-)

Brookport Bridge - The BLUE HUMMER
Posted April 11, 2007, by Charles Fountain (cfount [at] bellsouth [dot] net)

Many locals refer to the Brookport bridge as the "Blue Hummer" because of the humming sound tires make as they roll acroos the open decking.

Some one informed me that the decking was laid in the wrong direction and this is the reason for the sound.

Brookport Bridge
Posted January 3, 2007, by skot (sbridge [at] vci [dot] net)

I'd rather cross this bridge than the I-24 bridge. Seems like there is a pile-up every week on the I-24 bridge. Just yesterday, an 8 car crash closed the "modern" bridge. In addition, the 24 bridge was closed for a year around 1980 to repair cracks in the concrete, and then had another major overhaul in the early 1990's.

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 6, 2006, by hoversloth (ok [at] nevermind [dot] com)

Oh yeah, the blue bar bridge took another big hit from a barge!!!! Look out boys, she's coming down!!! hahahaha

joking... just joking.

Brookport Bridge
Posted May 20, 2006, by cmatt

I grew up in Massac County and have crossed this bridge too many times to count. I've never been concerned about it. For those who have never driven across a steel bridge deck it could be alarming but once you drive it once or twice it isn't a big deal. For those of you who get nervous on this bridge try not to think about the fact that you can manage to push an aluminium can through the gaps in the deck! Seriously though this bridge has had far fewer problems than the bridge over the Ohio on Interstate 24.

Brookport (Irvin S. Cobb) Bridge
Posted May 17, 2006, by Troy (tbrock4 [at] comcast [dot] net)

I was raised most of my life and still have family living in Brookport. I have crossed the bridge so many times that if I had a nickel for each time (either direction), I would be a very rich man. The key to crossing this bridge is to drive around 45-50 MPH while on the deck (of course, you'll need to slow down northbound as there is a fairly tight curve as you exit the bridge into Brookport). If you drive any slower, the metal decking will tend to grab your tires and make you wobble side to side. Likewise, if you have winter tires or tires with a large tread, the same result may happen. Hey...Stay calm...those of you who freak out on this thing are the ones who give us a reason to paint it every so often (SCREEEEEEEEEEEE...that's the sound of your car swapping paint with the bridge). The only thing I don't recommend is crossing the bridge on foot or bike; you gotta keep your eyes open for the other fool.

Brookport Bridge
Posted April 20, 2006, by The Count (count [at] gte [dot] net)

I just crossed this bridge southbound on Thursday, April 13th, and I have to agree with the first poster, although I will say that with all the construction vehcles on the eastern half, it feels as if you have a whole lot less deck to work with. I very definitely had a harder time controlling the car on the metal deck. There was another bridge a lot like this one in Boonville, MO at one time. I didn't like driving over it, either.

Brookport Bridge
Posted March 14, 2006, by Josh (GADGET_THE_HACKER [at] HOTMAIL [dot] COM)

man you scare easy, I go to high school near the bridge and my job is across the bridge I cross it daily, its a little annoying right now though because of them repainting but it is a great bridge, YOU and about 50% of my high school a scared to cross it, I have lived by that bridge ALL MY LIFE! I have been across in pick-up trucks, cars, motorcycles, and semis (MY DAD DRIVES SEMIS) the bridge is very well designed. It got hit by a barge in around 2000, IT WAS LOUD, but the bridge took it, Didnít even half to close it. They recently upgraded it. with solar powered cameras and a fiber optic cable that crosses it.

Brookport Bridge
Posted February 25, 2006, by Jim Elliott (jim dot elliott at computer dot org)

I crossed this bridge in 1952 while my mother was in labor on her way from Metropolis Illinois to Riverside Hospital in Paducah. This bridge is (or at least was) named after journalist Irvin S. Cobb.

Brookport Bridge
Posted January 22, 2006, by mike jakob (jakob04 [at] verizon [dot] net)

I drive this bridge every day to work with no problems. The only thing you have to worry about is the little speed trap town and barny fife wanna be of brookport.

Brookport Bridge
Posted November 11, 2005, by mark (markkris [at] earthlink [dot] net)

It is one of the best constructed bridges I have ever seen. It is braced and cross braced repeatedly. I would much prefer to be on it than on the I 24 bridge when the New Madrid earthquake zone finally goes off. I have been across it many many hundreds of times and I love it.

Brookport Bridge
Posted September 18, 2005, by R Dale

I drove across this bridge several times and I still get extemely nervous, the metal roadway makes it feel like you are losing control of your vehicle, my stepdad used to drive grain trucks on the bridge prior to I-24 bridge being built and he stated that it was the worst bridge he has ever drove across.

My advice:

TAKE THE I-24 BRIDGE UNLESS YOU ARE BRAVE