Over the past the year, the BNSF railroad appears to have spent a considerable amount of money upgrading the bridge for rail traffic. They replaced the approaches on the St. Charles County side with single-track box girder trusses and may have installed larger horizontal reinforcement beams on the main trusses, although that may have been the original beams. I'm not sure if they just repainted them, as they appear to be newer and stick out from the rest of the truss structure. They also constructed reinforced concrete pedestals on two of the three piers. The track to the bridge is also being extensively renovated so it appears that the BNSF plans on keeping it in service for a while. There is still construction equipment in place around the bridge, so perhaps more work will be done. It would be nice if they would paint the bridge as well, as it has needed it for a long time!
Although I don't watch it on a daily basis, I believe the rail traffic on the bridge is relatively light, especially since the MKT railroad was abandoned back in 1985. It mostly is used for unit coal trains for the Portage Des Sioux power plant on the Mississippi River. I suspect that if that ever stopped, the BNSF might build a connection south along Missouri 79 to the Norfolk & Southern line that goes through St. Charles and abandon the "dog leg" it has to make to service the Portage Des Sioux power plant. But, that doesn't seem likely to happen.
Scott: The best option is to park near the end of the offramp on the south end of the highway bridge. In summer, there are some trees in the way, but it's still a pretty good view and doesn't require trespassing.
I haven't explored the north end, but it might be possible to drive or hike along the levee to reach the bridge. I don't know if the levee road is gated or not.
Does anyone know how much rail traffic this bridge gets? And are there any good spots (easy to get to and not private property) to take photos of the trains on the bridge? Thanks!
This bridge carries the BNSF Railroad over the Missouri River.
I don't get out there often but the only thing I can recall seeing is BNSF units.
You can see additional pictures of this bridge here:
WHAT RAILROADS RUN ON HERE?