November 17, 2007
A “rededication” ceremony was held for the McKinley Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River and links St. Louis, Missouri, with Venice, Illinois. This bridge had been designed by renowned engineer Ralph Modjeski and it first opened in 1907.
Contrary to a widespread assumption, the bridge was not named after President William McKinley; the bridge was instead named for its builder William B. McKinley, chief executive of the Illinois Traction System interurban railway. That company’s railway traffic traveled on the bridge for several years to get in and out of St. Louis. This bridge eventually also served motor vehicle traffic.
In addition, the McKinley Bridge had the distinction of being the original crossing for U.S. Route 66 (US 66) over the Mississippi River when that famed highway was established in 1926. (The McKinley Bridge carried US 66 for four years until a new alignment took the highway over the Chain of Rocks Bridge instead.) The McKinley Bridge’s railroad line segment was closed by 1978, with an additional set of lanes subsequently opened for automotive traffic on the bridge.
In 2001, the bridge – in operation for more than 90 years by that time – was closed due to the need for major structural repairs. The rehabilitative effort began in 2004. Hundreds of people were on hand three years later for the rededication of the bridge. As part of that Saturday celebration, the newly restored structure was initially opened for pedestrians and bicyclists only. Those individuals were allowed to walk or pedal across the bridge between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that day. The McKinley Bridge was reopened to motor vehicle traffic two months later, and has since remained available as well to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Photo Credit: LittleT889 (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
For more information on the McKinley Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McKinley_Bridge