11th Street Bridge (Tulsa)

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11th Street Bridge
Route 66 pedestrian overpass looking onto Cyrus Avery Plaza.jpg
Location Tulsa, Oklahoma
Built 1915 (1915)
Architect Harrington, Howard and Ash
NRHP Reference # 96001488
Added to NRHP 1996

The 11th Street Bridge was completed in December 1915 to carry vehicles across the Arkansas River at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Used from 1916 to 1972, It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was also a part of U.S. Route 66.[1] Functionally, it has been replaced by the I-244 bridges across the Arkansas. At present, the bridge is in poor structural condition and unsafe even for pedestrians. In 2008, the gates were locked to exclude all visitors.[2]

This bridge was added on December 13, 1996 to the National Register under Criteria A and C. Its NRIS number is 96001488.[3]


Engineered by Harrington, Howard and Ash of Kansas City, this bridge replaced an earlier wooden structure. It was built by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company for $180,000. A multi-span concrete arch bridge, with 18 spans, it was 1470 feet long and 34 feet wide. It had a railroad track in the center and one vehicular lane on each side of the track. At the time, it was one of the longest concrete structures in the midwestern United States.[4]

In 1929, the original balustrades and Victorian-style lights were replaced with Art Deco guardrails and lights. A 1934 project constructed a second arched bridge immediately downstream and connected both bridges with a single deck. This brought the deck width to 52 feet 8 inches, and accommodated four lanes of traffic.[4]


Completion of the I-244 bridges in 1967 removed most vehicular traffic from the 11th street bridge. In 1980, it was closed to traffic, although it remained open to pedestrians. In 1996, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[4] In 2004, the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma formally renamed the Eleventh Street Bridge (which carried US 66 over the Arkansas River), the Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge in honor of the man who vigorously promoted the creation of Route 66.[5]

Present condition[edit]

Time has not been good to the old bridge, and it has been rated as "quite dangerous" and unsafe for pedestrians by the City of Tulsa. There are holes in the deck, the pavement has buckled in many places, and weeds grow in the cracks. The gates were locked in 2008. Although it was considered as the centerpiece of a Route 66 exhibit, engineers estimated that it would cost $15 million just to be made safe for pedestrians. The conclusion was that the historic structure is "...too expensive to repair, too historic to demolish, and too valuable to ignore."[2]

Ironically, the I-244 bridges have already reached the end of their service lives. The westbound bridge was closed and demolition begun in May 2011. Demolition was 85 percent complete as of August 1, 2011. The demolished structure will be replaced by a double-deck, multimodal span. The top deck will carry vehicles and the lower deck will have a pedestrian way and two railroad tracks (to be added in the future). Completion is scheduled for 2013. Extreme care has been used during the demolition to avoid vibrations that might further damage the old 11th Street Bridge.[6]


  1. ^ Oklahoma Department of Highways. "Spans of Time"
  2. ^ a b Bryan, Emory. "Historic Tulsa Bridge To Remain Closed." May 14, 2009.[1].
  3. ^ Tulsa Preservation Commission:"Eleventh Street Arkansas River Bridge."
  4. ^ a b c National Park Service, "11th Street Arkansas River Bridge Tulsa, Oklahoma."[2]
  5. ^ "Cyrus Stevens Avery Timeline."Accessed July 23, 2011
  6. ^ Off, Gavin. "Demolition of westbound I-244 bridge over Arkansas River nearly complete. Tulsa World August 2, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2011.[3]

External links[edit]

Old U. S. 66 bridge across the Arkansas River