Burlington Rail Bridge

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Burlington Rail Bridge
Burlington Lift Span Open.JPG
The bridge's lift span in 2013
Coordinates 40°47′55″N 91°05′31″W / 40.79861°N 91.09194°W / 40.79861; -91.09194
Carries Double-track rail line
Crosses Mississippi River
Locale Burlington, Iowa and Gulf Port, Illinois
Official name BNSF Br. 204.66
Maintained by BNSF Railway
Design Five 250-foot (76 m) fixed trusses; one 370-foot (110 m) vertical-lift truss span; two deck plate girder spans
Total length 2,145 feet (654 m)
Width 34 feet 6 inches (10.52 m)
Longest span 370 feet (110 m) (lift span)
Clearance above 19.5 ft (5.9 m) (closed);
44.1 ft (13.4 m) (open) over 2% flowline
Opened 1867 (original)
1893 (replacement)
2010 (second replacement)

The Burlington Bridge is a vertical-lift railroad bridge across the Mississippi River between Burlington, Iowa, and Gulf Port, Illinois, United States. It is currently owned by BNSF Railway and carries two tracks which are part of BNSF's Chicago–Denver main line. It is the third bridge that has existed at the same location. The first, a single-track bridge that opened in 1868,[1] and the second, a double-track bridge built in 1893, were swing bridges.[2] The 1893 bridge was replaced in 2009–2011 by the current structure, which uses a vertical-lift span instead of a swing span.[3] The line and the earlier bridges were originally part of the network of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, commonly known as the Burlington Route, but became part of Burlington Northern Railroad in 1970 and later BNSF. Amtrak's California Zephyr crosses this bridge.

On May 1, 2008, five fully loaded barges broke loose during a period of high water. One struck the bridge and became lodged under it. The bridge was closed until midday on May 2, when one track was opened after it was deemed safe. The barge was removed during the afternoon of May 3 and the other track was reopened that evening bringing the bridge back to full use to carry the dozens of trains that cross it daily.

The BNSF Railway began work to replace the bridge in late 2009.[4] The project was split into two phases, with the lift span being built first by Ames Construction, of Burnsville, MN and the approach trusses built by the Walsh Construction Company of Chicago, IL. The lift span was complete and operational by February 2011, while the remainder of the bridge wasn't officially dedicated until October 2012.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hudson, C. H. (7 March 1894). The Original Construction of the Burlington Bridge in 1867-68. Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies, Vol. 13, pp. 257–258.
  2. ^ Morison, George S. (6 December 1893). Reconstruction of the Burlington Bridge. Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies, Vol. 12, pp. 599–601.
  3. ^ Iowa DOT Tiger Grant Application
  4. ^ "BNSF Burlington Bridge Upgrade Work Begins". BNSF Railway. September 23, 2009. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ Crippes, Christinia (October 19, 2012). "BNSF workers and local officials gather to dedicate BNSF bridge; Stimulus funds provided impetus to get project completed". The Hawk Eye. Burlington, Iowa. Retrieved March 29, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). 

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