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St. Francisville Bridge

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Bridge looking west from Missouri bank

Photo taken by Nathan Morton in Feb. 08

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Description 

The St. Francisville Bridge carries Iowa Route 394 and the Missouri Supplemental Route B over the Des Moines River, between Lee County, Iowa and Clark County, Missouri. A three-span, rigid-connected Warren through truss cantilevered over the river, the imposing crossing is supported by a concrete substructure with subtle Art Moderne detailing. Designed by the esteemed engineering firm of Sverdrup and Parcel, the bridge was built by F.W. Whitehead, an otherwise obscure contractor. Construction efforts were organized by the Wayland Special Road District No. 1 in Clark County, and funding was provided in part through the Federal Emergency Administration of the Public Works, under Project No. 3395-R. Since its completion in June 1937, the St. Francisville Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge, and is now Iowa's only such crossing still in non-governmental hands. Located at one of Iowa's most remote interstate crossings, the St. Francisville Bridge is one of the state's few remaining toll bridges. In this it represents a nationwide trend toward toll bridge construction in the 1920s and 1930s. Toll bridges were built at major crossings throughout the country during this time by private companies, small corporations or local citizens groups, to fill the void created by state government inaction. Multiple-span structures such as the Abraham Lincoln Bridge in Blair were built as toll structures and later opened to free traffic once their funding bonds had been retired. The St. Francisville Bridge, on the other hand, is the only such structure still in private hands and still operating as a toll bridge. The bridge is technologically distinguished as a relatively uncommon example of cantilevered truss construction. The cantilevered through truss was a signature design of St. Louis-based Sverdrup and Parcel, which engineered several major spans in the Midwest. The cantilevered Warren truss configuration is uncommon for a bridge of the scale of St. Francisville, however, more often found on the larger structures over the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. A well-preserved interstate crossings, the St. Francisville Bridge is an important highway-related resource [adapted from Crow-Dolby and Fraser 1992].

Facts 

Overview
Cantilevered through truss bridge over Des Moines River on former Route B/IA 394
Location
Clark County, Missouri, and Lee County, Iowa
Status
Bypassed by four-lane bridge on new alignment in 2004, was still open to traffic on a frontage road until closure in 2016.
History
Built 1937; tolls removed 2003
Builders
- F.W. Whitehead of Kahoka, Missouri
- Sverdrup & Parcel of St. Louis, Missouri (Designer)
Design
Cantilevered Warren through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 228.0 ft.
Total length: 762.9 ft.
Deck width: 21.6 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.8 ft.
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
IA394 Des Moines River Bridge
MO B Des Moines River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.46216, -91.56706   (decimal degrees)
40°27'44" N, 91°34'01" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/621488/4480039 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Wayland
Land survey
T. 65 N., R. 6 W., Sec. 4-5
Inventory numbers
MoDOT K-918 (Missouri Dept. of Transportation bridge number)
MONBI 25293 (Missouri bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
IA 603980 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 21257 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 02/2015)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 15.6 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2014)
349

Update Log 

  • September 14, 2016: Updated by Nathan Holth: Closed.
  • June 19, 2014: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • December 28, 2013: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • July 13, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builders
  • April 9, 2012: New photos from Quinn Phelan
  • January 23, 2011: New photos from Fmiser
  • April 25, 2008: Updated by Max Johnson

Sources 

Comments 

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted April 22, 2008, by Joe (nascarfan999 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Just wanted to update the status of this bridge. The toll bridge was replaced by a new bridge just to the west of this bridge in approx. 2004 (give or take a year). The tolls were taken off of this bridge, but the bridge was open at last check. The bridge still carries Hwy B on the Missouri side, and I believe the Iowa side is now a county road, but the road dead ends into the new highway (Highway 27) just north of the bridge).