Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge

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Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge
Douglas Street Bridge - July 1914.jpg
The bridge in 1914
Carries Road vehicles
Crosses Missouri River
Locale Omaha, Nebraska
Official name Douglas Street Bridge
Owner Group of businessmen
Followed by Unnamed I-480 girder bridge
Engineering design by Omaha and Council Bluffs Street Railway Company
Opened 1888
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 originally built as a single bridge. Due to increased demand they built a twin sister bridge next to the existing one. It was The Lincoln Highway bridge from 1913 to 1930. Notice the L for Lincoln Highway in the picture. It was then the Highway 30 bridge, then Highway 30A, then Highway 30 S until its destruction. It was a toll bridge. As automobiles became more popular, there were resentments about the tolls. In 1895 a group of businessmen formed the "Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben" ("Nebraska" spelled backwards) in 1938 they bought 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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