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Great River Bridge
Carries 4 lanes of US 34
Crosses Mississippi River
Locale Burlington, Iowa and Gulf Port, Illinois
Maintained by Iowa Department of Transportation
Design Cable-stayed bridge
Total length 1,245 feet (379 m)
Width 27 feet (8 m)
Longest span 660 feet (201 m)
Clearance below 60 feet (18 m)
Opened October 4, 1993
Coordinates 40°48′43″N 91°05′44″W / 40.81194°N 91.09556°W / 40.81194; -91.09556
Great River Bridge is located in Iowa

The Great River Bridge is an asymmetrical, one-tower cable-stayed bridge over the Mississippi River. It carries U.S. Highway 34 from Burlington, Iowa to the town of Gulf Port, Illinois.



Construction began in 1989, but work on the main tower did not begin until April 1990. The main tower is 370 feet (113 m) in height from the top of the tower to the riverbed. During the Great Flood of 1993, construction continued despite record crests on the Mississippi below. The final cost of the bridge was $49 million, about 16 percent over budget.

A night view of the bridge.

The Great River Bridge replaced the MacArthur Bridge, an aging two-lane, cantilevered, steel toll bridge built in 1917. At the time, the bridge was in desperate need of repair, or replacement, as it swayed ominously when two semis crossed the bridge at the same time on the two lanes of traffic. After the bridge was dismantled, the engineers discovered that the supports weren't sunk into the bedrock far enough, causing undermining of the piers. All that remains of the original bridge is the central pier, which has several high water marks from its time in the Mississippi River. The new bridge is five lanes wide (two westbound, three eastbound), with piers sunk over 90 feet into bedrock, and provides a safer crossing across the Mississippi River than the old bridge.


In the early morning of May 1, 2008, five barges broke loose of their moorings, with two of those striking the eastern most pylon of the bridge on the Henderson County, Illinois side of the river. The bridge was closed while it could be inspected by the Iowa Department of Transportation for damage and repairs. A third barge continued downstream, striking the BNSF Railroad owned Burlington Rail Bridge. The bridge was reopened the following day.

On June 17, 2008, the bridge was closed due to flooding.[1]

See also


  • The Hawk Eye. "Barge strikes close U.S. 34, BNSF bridges" The Hawk Eye, [1], Thursday, May 1, 2008

External links



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