Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge

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Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge
Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge 1938 LOC 11763u.jpg
Bridge toll in November, 1938
Official name Douglas Street Bridge
Carries Road vehicles
Crosses Missouri River
Locale Omaha, Nebraska
Owner Group of businessmen
Engineering design Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company
Opened 1888
Followed by Unnamed I-480 girder bridge
Closed 1966

Coordinates: 41°15′35″N 95°55′16″W / 41.2598°N 95.9210°W / 41.2598; -95.9210

The Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge was a truss bridge that was the first road bridge to cross the Missouri River connecting Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was replaced in 1966 by the Interstate 480 girder bridge.

Originally called the Douglas Street Bridge, the bridge was built by the Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company in 1888 and was designed to handle streetcars. It was a toll bridge. As automobiles became more popular, there were resentments about the tolls. A group of businessmen formed the "Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben" ("Nebraska" spelled backwards) to buy the bridge with the intentions of making it a free bridge. They continued to charge tolls until 1947 when it along with the South Omaha Bridge became free bridges. The hated toll booths were paraded through Omaha to celebrate Free Bridge Day on September 25, 1947.

It was replaced in November 1966 with an unnamed I-480 girder bridge (I-480 was to go on and be named the "Gerald R. Ford Freeway" after the native son President). Attempts were made to salvage the bridge as a pedestrian walkway but it was demolished in 1968 although the east pier remains in the river just south of the interstate on the Council Bluffs side.

U.S. Route 6 overlaps the interstate to cross the river.

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