19 votes

ASB Bridge


Overview from the west

Photo taken by James Baughn

BH Photo #105556

Street Views 

Historic significance 

Researched 04/30/2008

The A.S.B. Bridge is the only one of its type and design ever constructed anywhere else worldwide, this, only because of its lift span. The vertical lift span carries the lower railroad deck, and can allows the hangers from the lower deck to be contracted into the truss members of the upper deck, thus allowing auto traffic to continue on top, even when the lower lever is raised for river traffic.

[Webmaster's note: Waddell also designed the Steel Bridge in Portland, Oregon, which also has a telescoping vertical-lift design, although it is configured somewhat differently.]


Vertical-lift through truss bridge over the Missouri River on the BNSF Railway in Kansas City
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, and Clay County, Missouri
Open to railroad traffic
Opened to traffic on December 28, 1911; upper roadway deck removed 1987
- American Concrete Co.
- Frederick William Fratt (President Union Depot Bridge & Terminal Railway Company)
- James O'Connor & Son
- McClintic-Marshall Co. of Chicago, Illinois & Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Waddell & Harrington of Kansas City, Missouri (Design)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CBQ)
- Interurban
- Kansas City, Clay County & St. Joseph Railway (KCCC&StJ)
From south to north, as originally built:
Two deck plate girder spans, total length 92 ft.
One Baltimore through truss span, length 285.9 ft.
Five deck plate girder spans, total length 287 ft.
Six deck plate girder spans, total length 428 ft.
One vertical-lift Baltimore through truss, 428 ft.
One fixed Baltimore deck truss, 428 ft.
One fixed Baltimore deck truss, 426 ft.
Twenty-five deck plate girder spans, total length 1399 ft.
One Baltimore through truss, length 129 ft.
Five deck plate girder spans, total length 173 ft.
Length of largest span: 428.0 ft.
Total length: 1,475.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Armour, Swift, Burlington Bridge (full name)
Fratt Bridge
Winner Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.11663, -94.58023   (decimal degrees)
39°06'60" N, 94°34'49" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/363386/4330908 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Kansas City
Land survey
T. 50 N., R. 33 W., Sec. 26 and 32
Inventory numbers
MoDOT K-229R4 (Missouri Dept. of Transportation bridge number)
BH 21680 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 12, 2020: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler
  • June 7, 2019: Photo imported by Clark Vance
  • May 19, 2019: New photos from Joe Sonderman
  • February 9, 2019: New photo from Neil Krout
  • August 12, 2018: New photo from James Baughn
  • November 24, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • October 22, 2016: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • September 19, 2016: New photos from Dave King
  • September 14, 2016: New photos from John Marvig
  • September 5, 2016: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • January 19, 2016: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added additional original/historical names.
  • June 1, 2015: New photo from Luke
  • March 8, 2014: New Street View added by Kelly McClanahan
  • October 20, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad", "Navigable waterway"
  • June 28, 2012: Updated by Clark Vance: Added category "KCCC&StJ interurban RR"
  • September 8, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • January 5, 2010: New photos from Eric Kinkhorst
  • October 6, 2009: New photo from Mark Frazier
  • October 7, 2008: New photos from Rick Mattioni
  • April 30, 2008: Essay added by Max Johnson
  • July 3, 2006: Posted new photos



ASB Bridge
Posted July 28, 2018, by SteveCarras (gcarras [at] aol [dot] com)

Nathan Holt, I always noticed that multiple cable/counterweight on either side factor!

and the "fixed upper deck/movable lower deck" feature,too!

And then there was that southern side splitting the upper roadway deck (as it turned out to be) in two, inside going east toward Kansas City, between the northern and southern side, and outside right outside the truss itself going westbound toward the farms! (my famly sued to come from there..)

ASB Bridge
Posted December 2, 2017, by Justin

Kelly, the person was shitposting/not being serious.

ASB Bridge
Posted December 2, 2017, by Kelly McClanahan

The bridge's name is, and always will be the ASB -- Amour, Swift, and Burlington. We should not change the name of the bridge because the railroad -- which in some sense is the same railroad -- because the railroad has changed it identity. As for the removal of the old road deck, perhaps another bit of insight on the matter. Unless the it is being used, and properly maintained, it can (and will become) a hazard. Take the old 83rd Street Bridge over I 435. It was removed for two reasons -- one it was not being used, and secondly, people where throwing stuff off it. It would perhaps be a good idea, if the light rail was ever extended over the River, that using the upper deck would be a good idea. But more often than not, there reason bridges are torn down is because of one thing M-O-N-E-Y. It is expensive to keep certain old bridges in operation, and sometimes sadly, it is better to replace, rather than repair.

ASB Bridge
Posted November 25, 2017, by Anonymous

I am not Royce.

ASB Bridge
Posted November 25, 2017, by Justin

Shitposting because your naming got pointed out doesn't help your argument, Royce, it only makes you look worse.

ASB Bridge
Posted November 25, 2017, by Anonymous

Can we please change this one to BNSF - Missouri River Bridge?????

ASB Bridge
Posted October 2, 2015, by Lyon_Wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Perhaps a brand new upper deck could be built on the ASB since I heard that Kansas City is bringing back street cars and light rail?

ASB Bridge
Posted September 30, 2015, by Max

In Response to Nathan below. There were many factors leading to the removal of the auto deck. I agree, it would be awesome if it was still there, but railroads tend to not like "excess" like that. I had read a report online from the city somewhere back years ago when I was searching for info about the bridge. Up until 1989, the bridge was actually owned solely by MODOT, this due to the fact that Burlington Ave was US 71 originally and crossed the bridge way back in the day prior to the Interstate system and 71 re-routing onto the Paseo when I-35 & 29 were commissioned. At the time of disassembly, it was 76 years old and according to the HAER summary, had been through the ringer. The south approach burnt down in the 20's and was rebuilt, the deck was "repaired" many times with band-aids and was just in poor shape. The deck shots from '81 clearly show how bad it was. Not to mention the inside of the truss was intended for street cars and was very narrow when converted to driving lanes, plus the outside lanes had that nasty curve that supposedly took many a life from collisions. The other reason it was removed, according to the report, is upon completion of the new HOA bridge, MODOT would transfer ownership to Burlington Northern to remain for rail use.

It wasn't noted, but I'm sure somewhere in that time BN probably ranted about receiving it with a deteriorated (and then abandoned) four lane auto deck that, would of course be of no use to them and would have to be removed in a few years anyway with a hefty price tag. It was stated that, after removing the deck, the bridge was cleaned, repainted and handed over to BN. This is why its that teal-blue color to this day.

Same kind of scenario with the MacArthur bridge in St. Louis, it was owned by MODOT as well. While the auto deck closed in 1981, the railroad continued to use it until '89-90 when they traded the Eads bridge for it. Now, 25 years later, the deteriorated deck is being removed on that one too. Maybe in better shape, but I've seen a lot of videos and pictures online where people are walking out on it. The railroad I'm sure knows of this and is worried about death and lawsuits and thus taking action.

Either way, it is all a shame, the A.S.B. was a magnificent structure in size, as well as design. It should be lit up and painted red, white and blue. A true symbol of the strength of our country at the turn of the century. Back when things were made to last......

ASB Bridge
Posted July 16, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

No mention has been made on this website of the additional unique feature of the bridge. Not just that its a telescoping design... but that each hanger extending from the truss panel points that supports the lower deck is actually individually connected to its own independent counterweight. Very unusual!

The demolition of the top deck of this bridge should NEVER have been allowed. The bridge has national significance and the top deck should either have been abandoned and left in place, or even better converted into a linear park for pedestrians.

ASB Bridge
Posted July 2, 2012, by Kevin Anderson (iamcreated [at] att [dot] net)

Photos taken June 2012

The panarama from the River Front Park show the bridge under the load of a train

ASB Bridge
Posted February 24, 2012, by Garrett Corliss (hugeroblox [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I nearly got a photo and video of this bride being raised. The barge just stopped west of the Kit Bond Bridge. I was wondering if anybody knows if their is a horn on the bridge to let people know it is being raised?

ASB Bridge
Posted August 6, 2011, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

To add a little history, originally the upper deck carried light rail--the trolly--down the center. On the outside, cantilevered out from the truss sections, were lanes used for autos. When KC did away with the trolly system they converted the center lanes to auto use. This led to a number of fatal accidents as the inside lanes ran straight through but the outer lanes had to make a sharp turn out where the main structure came up.

The KC Library has some great pictures but I'm unsure of their permission, so links:





Although there were four lanes, they were quite narrow with no significant divider between opposing traffic on the center two lanes. This inability to modernize, combined with the number of serious wrecks, led to the decision to build a modern bridge for autos just downstream.

I drove this bridge many times and recall looking at the huge pulley system between lanes of traffic.

ASB Bridge
Posted August 6, 2011, by Luke Harden (lmharden [at] iastate [dot] edu)

Picture 15 shows it raised.

ASB Bridge
Posted August 6, 2011, by Jon (exabrial [at] gmail [dot] com)

Does anyone know if the bridge mechanics are still in use? Does anyone have a picture of the bridge raised? With the construction on the Christopher S. Bond Bridge downstream, it seems they would need to get river traffic through some how.

ASB Bridge
Posted November 23, 2010, by Rich (fyadcorp [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge is still used by BNSF with great frequency. It is the only direct link from BNSF's Murray Yard on the north side of the river to KCS's Knoche Yard on the south side, and there's also a quick connection to a UP mainline. Most of the traffic is southbound loaded coal trains and northbound empties. There is other traffic, particularly grain trains, that is handed off to the KCS from BNSF via this crossing. The occasional UP or KCS yard job will carry a string of cars to and from each railroad.

BNSF maintains a bridge operator on duty 24/7 for both bridges although the operator is stationed at the Hannibal Bridge a few hundred yards upstream from the ASB bridge (you can see the operator's station in the middle of the swing span). The bridges haven't been opened in some time (years) according to some of the crews. The railroad span of the ASB bridge is just barely wide enough to carry two tracks although there is only one track on it now.

ASB Bridge - North Pier abandoned after traffic deck removed
Posted October 3, 2009, by Mark Frazier (mfrazier [at] kc [dot] rr [dot] com)

The pier that supported the traffic deck on the north side of the river still remains. Located at the edge of the rail yard.

ASB Bridge
Posted May 26, 2009, by kyle

I would like to know if anybody out there has a photograph of the asb bridge from the north side of the bridge approaching the south? I am currious to see what it looked like up on the top of the deck truss portion of the asb bridge before they removed the highway portion.


ASB Bridge
Posted April 28, 2009, by Gene McCluney (mccluney [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

From the look of the photos on this bridge page, it doesn't look like they "tore down" the bridge, but rather built a new automobile bridge nearby, and removed the approaches to the passenger deck to this bridge. The bridge is still used for railroad traffic, and believe me, if a railroad doesn't "need" something, they are more than eager to get rid of it, so it must be important for rail traffic still.

Main reasons for building a new automobile bridge is increased volume of traffic requiring more lanes, wider lanes to allow for modern wider vehicles, etc.

ASB Bridge
Posted April 28, 2009, by Connie Solomon (csolomon [at] courts [dot] mo [dot] gov)

Question? When they tore down the bridge, why was the railroad portion left standing? Long ago, I believe I heard something to the effect of a city/railroad contract that stated the railroad bridge would stand for something like 100 years. Anyone know anything about this???

ASB Bridge
Posted April 28, 2009, by Connie Solomon (csolomon [at] courts [dot] mo [dot] gov)

Question? Instead of the bridge being totally demolished, why was the railroad part left standing? Seems like years ago I heard there was a lengthy contract between the city and the railroad that the railroad bridge would remain for something like 100 years. Anyone know anything about this???

ASB Bridge
Posted January 14, 2009, by Max Johnson

Kyle, you were right the first time. the roadway picture taken in 1986 is the south approach, take a look at the HAER airplane shots from '81. you will notice that the north truss is on a curve and very far away from the main span in the background of the picture.

the south approach is very close to the main span.

compare the two.

the picture thrid from the bottom IS the south approach truss.

ASB Bridge
Posted October 10, 2008, by kyle

I retract my prior statement, I misread the information.

It reads view to the north through truss. Sorry.

My mistake.

ASB Bridge
Posted October 10, 2008, by kyle

I like the new pictures. I noticed that the approach truss shown in the 3rd picture from the bottom is actually the south approach truss, it is labled the north truss. The north truss was much lower profile than the south truss is. If you look in the pictures dating back to 1981 they show this difference.

ASB Bridge
Posted March 22, 2008, by John Waver

To answer Kyle, yes and no.

The bridge's old auto deck is being considered for light-rail use, because of its design, the way the lower level can be lifted without stopping traffic on top.

However, light-rail still is very heavy, and with the BNSF railway running heavy-rail below, it may not hold that much.

However, there is a another bridge that is being considered that is not listed on this site, The Second Hannibal Bridge, it is about 400 feet upstream of the A.S.B., and it as well has an abandoned auto deck, but it is a swing bridge, and Kansas City, Missouri thinks that could be a problem, due that both the rail and auto decks would be stopped for river traffic when the span is open, but the A.S.B. would not, as of its lift design.

Another, is the Heart of America bridge, the A.S.B.'s replacement, it is a girder bridge, and it too is not strong enough for light-rail, as it is for automobiles only.

So, the subject is very well open, and the Armour-Swift-Burlington bridge may have the upper deck used again, but, like I said, the heavyness is the problem.

We will all have to wait.

ASB Bridge
Posted March 4, 2008, by kyle

I have heard a rumor that the A.S.B. bridge might be re-habilitated for use with the light rail in kansas city. Is this true or not?

ASB Bridge
Posted February 3, 2008, by Sam

does anyone have any photos of the bridge during the removal of the auto deck?

I would like to see some picutres of it while the upper deck was being removed.

does anyone have any??