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Washington Bridge

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Photos 

Overview from riverfront

Photo taken by James Baughn

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Facts 

Overview
Cantilevered through truss bridge over the Missouri River on MO 47 at Washington
Location
Washington, Franklin County, Missouri, and Warren County, Missouri
Status
Open to two-lane traffic
Future prospects
Initial studies for a new bridge are currently being planned. It may be a total of ten years until the new bridge is open to traffic, but the process of planning replacement has begun.

Replacement tentatively planned for 2017.

History
Construction started Oct. 1934; opened to traffic April 8, 1936
Builders
- Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. of Leavenworth, Kansas (Substructure)
- Stupp Brothers Bridge & Iron Co. of St. Louis, Missouri (Superstructure)
- Sverdrup & Parcel of St. Louis, Missouri (Designer)
Design
Warren through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 474.6 ft.
Total length: 2,561.3 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Deck width: 22.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.6 ft.
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.55774, -90.99790   (decimal degrees)
38°33'28" N, 90°59'52" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/674447/4269600 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Washington East
Land survey
T. 44 N., R. 1 W., Sec. 23
Inventory numbers
MONBI 6026 (Missouri bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
MoDOT K-969 (Missouri Dept. of Transportation bridge number)
BH 21510 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 06/2012)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 31.2 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2012)
10,882

Update Log 

  • November 16, 2013: New photos from Diane Martin
  • November 8, 2012: Photo imported by Ben Tate
  • August 19, 2011: New photos from Ben Tate
  • January 21, 2010: Updated by Nathan Holth: Plans for replacing this bridge have begun.
  • May 13, 2009: New photo from Joe Virruso
  • July 21, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • May 30, 2008: New photos from David B. Haun
  • April 30, 2005: Posted new photos

Sources 

Comments 

Washington Bridge
Posted December 4, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

In a few years, the word "ugly" will be defined in the dictionary simply with the phrase "Washington Bridge" thanks to the proposed replacement bridge unveiled by MoDOT:

http://www.modot.org/stlouis/major_projects/Route47MissouriRiverBridgePublicHearingDec2013.htm

I personally walked this bridge and there is nothing wrong with it that is not cost-effective to repair in rehabilitation. The only acceptable alternatives should have been a one-way couplet of bridges, or leaving the historic bridge standing for pedestrian use. The proposed replacement and demolition alternative represents an enormous waste of both tax dollars and history.

Washington Bridge - Adaptive Reuse?
Posted October 6, 2011, by John Oechsner (bigtex144 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

So I just read the "ad" and they describe it as "offered to potential recipients" for "adaptive reuse"?? Does this mean that an advocacy group could get together and maintain the bridge for biking/walking?

Washington Bridge
Posted January 20, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Another massive cantilever bridge that you can own and relocate. See attached advertisement from MoDOT

View attachment #1 (PDF document, version 1.4, 56096 bytes)

Washington Bridge
Posted April 12, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Molly,

The important thing moving forward will be for people like you to participate in the public input process and speak out in favor of preservation... and get others to do the same.

You are correct, there is significant cost with demolishing a bridge of this size, and in my view its a waste of money. Reuse as a non-motorized bridge would be a wonderful solution. Its one I have advocated a number of times with large cantilever bridges but rarely gets done.

Washington Bridge
Posted April 12, 2010, by molly Hill (birdgurl97 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Oops! Nathan had posted info about saving the bridge, my bad...

Washington Bridge
Posted April 12, 2010, by molly Hill

Agreed, Nathan, I'd rather see the old bridge stay too. I apologize for not being more clear.... The point I was trying to make in the previous post was..... if there's no way in the world they are going to keep the old bridge, don't build some "economy" bridge like the excuse they have in Hermann, that thing is hideous!!! At least give it some effort.... by modern standards. Also, yes, There's a certain character an old bridge has that a new one will never replicate. I always liked how the top of the trusses with the power lines look like a big crown on the north approach. I don't know the details of the structural issues on washington bridge. I've driven across it before and it's not NEAR as neglected as the bridge they just brought down here in Fenton.( which is a big shame, would still be up if it had SOME kind of maintenance since '85, OMG!) So why all the fuss to get rid of it? The only point I can see in replacing the Washington bridge is maybe the "narrowness" of it, but in comparison to many other "obsolete" bridges, it's roomy!!!

And as someone else had previously stated there's still opportunities to save the bridge. There's no hope for it to stay up if nobody is optimistic! The planning being in infancy and no goal dates makes it all the more opportune to do so. A bike trail would be great. If money is an issue wouldn't it reduce the overall cost of the project by eliminating the need for a demolition?

By the way I posted on the issue of this bridge because I have memories related to it ... I love old stuff, especially cars! This bridge was part of my back roads route to the now defunct MId America Raceways when I used to live in Franklin county. The nostalgia drag races there where as if you stepped into a time warp to the '60's and '70's.. something else that was stamped out by progress, the grounds now a luxury subdivision, bleh!!

Washington Bridge
Posted April 11, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Cable-stayed bridges will soon be the most common large river crossing in North America. They are no longer unique or interesting. Modern truss bridge have a simpler truss design, less bracing, and they lack built-up beams with attractive v-lacing and lattice, and as such their aesthetic value is limited.

The only acceptable option is the preservation of this historic bridge.

Ad mentioned, the fact that this bridge is a local landmark and centerpiece for the town should result in the city strongly supporting the bridge, yet they are against preservation. This is similar to the way the city that calls itself "historic" Madison, Indiana fought to have their Milton-Madison Bridge demolished.

In the years and decades to come, when this country is filled with cable-stayed bridges and modern truss bridges, it will be those cities who choose to preserve their historic cantilever bridges that will stand out as unique.

Washington Bridge
Posted April 10, 2010, by Molly Hill (birdgurl97 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Hmm, interesting... From what I understand this bridge is a symbol of the city of washington, strange that they're so gung- ho about knocking it down. If they do replace this bridge it would be nice to see one that's unique, such as a cable stay bridge or arch of some kind, maybe even another truss :-) instead of a run of the mill concrete/steel stringer style...

Either way there's still time to enjoy it, The info I read they just dumped 5 mil to repair the present bridge and I saw no date whatsoever proposed for building a new one, just lots of speculation, committees, and fancy diagrams showing the planning process. it's demise is inevitable but how quickly they will get the funding is up in the air, just repairing the present bridge tells me it will be a while.

After reading about the bridge in minneapolis ( I-35W) that collapsed I thought it was funny they where using it as a springboard to eliminate the washington bridge. The minneapolis bridge collapsed due to a design/engineering flaw. Some sort of joint plate was too light for the structure to begin with, compounded by layers of asphalt and LOTS more traffic than washington will ever see. it was a truss too, but obviously of a poorer design ( it was nearly half as old as the washington bridge). If they want a new bridge bad enough to skew the facts, they better make it just as much of a symbol of washington as the old one.

Washington Bridge
Posted January 25, 2010, by John Oechsner (bigtex144 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I was just starting to think the other day of all the old historic bridges over the Missouri that have been demolished and replaced in the past 10 years... Glasgow, Hermann, Boonville (ok, that was 15 years ago), Lexington, Miami--and the list continues-- and all were replaced by very similar looking UCEB's. All these bridges were old truss styles and made me sarcastically think "Washington MO still has an old through-truss. Given MO's recent drive to replace any and ever truss bridge over the Missouri River, I can only imagine it's a matter of time..." Lo and behold, looks like I was actually right (sadly). Guess I'll need to make a trip to Washington soon and get a trip across and some good pictures before it's gone...

Washington Bridge
Posted January 22, 2010, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

I'll get started on that next week. You've pointed me in the right direction to get started. I do appreciate that.

This weekend I'll be visiting a location that our webmaster, James, recommended on his blog at the Southeast Missourian. I might even see a bridge or two to photograph during our travels. *s*

Thanks Nathan!

Sharon

Washington Bridge
Posted January 21, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Sharon,

One of the key things that needs to happen is community/public awareness and support. People need to be made to realize that the bridge is historic and that preservation options exist. Most people may not know this.

If you do not live near Washington, one thing you can do is write letters: To MoDOT, Washington City Council/Mayor, and your State and U.S. legislators. Tell them that you support preservation, explain that the bridge could be reused for pedestrians, and point to successful examples elsewhere. For example, these two bridges, ironically both called the Walnut Street Bridge but in different states: http://www.historicbridges.org/tennessee/walnut/index.htm and http://www.historicbridges.org/pennsylvania/walnut/index.htm In Missouri, the Chain of Rocks Bridge is also a good example.

This at least gives you a start!

Washington Bridge
Posted January 21, 2010, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

Hi Nathan,

First, I don't live in that county but I do live in MO. But what can the average taxpaying citizen do to make their views heard?

Building a new vehicle bridge and turning the current bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge makes the most sense to me.

Thanks,

Sharon

Washington Bridge
Posted January 21, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Yes, this bridge is doomed. All they need is the money.

How cute. The article says the bridge has a "maximum lifespan of 100 years" Try telling that to New Yorkers about the Brooklyn Bridge. The idea of a "life span" in a bridge is highly annoying to me. The "life" of a bridge is dictated by maintenance and ensuring that the bridge is not overloaded by overweight trucks.

If more lanes are needed, a second bridge should be built to form a one-way couplet, unless they want to build a new bridge and preserve the existing bridge for pedestrian use. Turning the bridge into a pedestrian bridge would be a great solution because they apparently were talking about a need for pedestrian and bicycle access on the bridge.

This rapid and unrelenting demolition of all historic bridges on the Missouri River MUST END NOW.

If you want to see a long video presentation on the replacement project given by an someone who uses scare tactics by wrongly telling people that this bridge is similar to the I-35W Bridge... which is completely untrue.

http://washmo.com/news/16-around-washington-mo/552-washmo-bridge-pres

Washington Bridge
Posted January 20, 2010, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)
Washington Bridge
Posted January 8, 2010, by Steven Baur (stever5964 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Here are better pictures.......

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Washington Bridge
Posted January 8, 2010, by Steven Baur (stever5964 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I live right next to the bridge. My family has been there longer than the bridge itself. We recently found these and other picture of the building of the bridge over the 3 year period.

Interesting Fact. There was a toll booth built on the Washington side of the bridge. There is a picture of the bridge toll booth. You would purchase tokens to get across.

On one of the pictures, there is a sign right before you step onto the unfinished bridge that stated "Unemployed, Keep Out."

This treasure is getting its second facelift now in 2009-10.

The last one was in 1995 where they raised the height by 2 feet and making the curb 6 inches instead of 12".

Enjoy

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Washington Bridge
Posted January 8, 2010, by Steven Baur (stever5964 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I have many photos of the building of this bridge to the person who would really like to see....contact me....

Washington Bridge
Posted May 6, 2009, by Mark Dellbringge

Work has started to rehabilitate this bridge and make repairs to the superstructure.

Washington Bridge
Posted November 29, 2007, by Anonymous

During the rehabilitation of this bridge, in the late 90's, there is a story of a man trying to manuever his way from one scaffold to another and ended up falling, boots first, several ft. to the river below. He survived. Mind you this happened at around 10:00pm in November.

Washington Bridge
Posted February 22, 2007, by Robert Brown (kansas57 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Love this site.

The bridges over the Missouri at Washington, Hermann, and Boonville (lost) and the lost bridges over the Mississippi at Hannibal and Cape Girardeau were all designed by the engineering department under the direction of Leif Sverdrup at the Mo Dept of Highways and Transportation (now DOT). Sverdrup went onto lead the Army engineers under MacArthur in the Pacific in WW II and came home and started an engineering and construction company in St Louis that is still in business.