Opened in 1917, the bridge replaced the original Hannibal Bridge which crossed the river about 200 feet downstream on the northern bank, but at virtually the same location on the southern bank. There are two decks on the bridge: the lower deck carried the railroad and the upper was for vehicular traffic. After the Broadway Bridge opened in 1956, vehicular traffic was switched over to the new span and the auto deck was removed later that year. It is owned and maintained by the BNSF Railway and carries two tracks. A bridge tender at the bridge can open and close the drawspan as well as operate the nearby ASB Bridge, which is also owned by BNSF.
The Hannibal Bridge survived the 1951 Kansas City flood after being hit by four river boats that tore loose from the mouth of the Kansas River, forcing the swinging span open.