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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Martin Luther King Bridge
MLK Bridge Mississippi River Crossing At Saint Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri

Martin Luther King Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 000082600118172.
• Location: River Mile 180.2.
• River Elevation: 385 Feet.
• Highway: MLK Bridge Street.
• Daily Traffic Count: 31,800 (2003).
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 4,009 Feet Overall, 962 Foot Main Span.
• Width: 40 Feet, 4 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: 940 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 98 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened January 13, 1951.
The Veterans Memorial Bridge was built by the City of East Saint Louis as a toll bridge, opening in 1951. At the time, it was the 6th longest cantilevered truss bridge in the US, and the largest cantilevered truss bridge over the Mississippi River. It carried US-40 and US-66 from 1955 until 1967. When the Poplar Street interstate highway bridge opened as a free bridge in 1967, the toll revenue from the Veterans Memorial Bridge dropped off dramatically. Eventually, both the bridge and the City of East Saint Louis would end up going bankrupt. The bridge was renamed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The structure continued to go downhill until it had to be taken over by the Saint Louis Port Authority and rebuilt in the late 1980's, opening again in early 1989.

Today, the MLK Bridge serves as a relief route for the monumental traffic jams that backup across the downtown Saint Louis river crossings. In fact, one idea to relieve the traffic problems involve putting up a twin span to the MLK, and routing I-70 over the twin spans. Moving I-70 off of the Poplar Street Bridge could really improve Saint Louis traffic.

Update—the Illinois DOT plans to close the MLK bridge between October 12, 2009, and October 24, 2009, to make safety repairs to the MLK bridge. The narrow lanes and the lack of a divider has lead to 38 serious accidents between 2003 and 2009. The bridge will be reconfigured for 2 lanes heading east into Illinois, and one lane heading west into Saint Louis. Converting the bridge to 3 lanes will allow the lanes to be a bit wider and allow for a center divider to be installed.

Martin Luther King Bridge
Martin Luther King Bridge
Martin Luther King Bridge

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