Meridian Highway Bridge
|Meridian Highway Bridge|
|Carries||pedestrians, previously 2 lanes of US 81|
|Locale||Yankton, South Dakota and Cedar County, Nebraska|
|Official name||Meridian Highway Bridge|
|Design||Vertical lift bridge double deck, Pratt through truss|
|Total length||3013 feet|
|Longest span||1668 feet|
|Nearest city||South Yankton, Nebraska|
|Area||2.4 acres (0.97 ha)|
|Architectural style||Prat vertical-lift truss|
|MPS||Highway Bridges in Nebraska MPS|
|NRHP Reference #||93000537|
|Added to NRHP||June 17, 1993|
The Meridian Highway Bridge is a bridge that formerly carried U.S. Route 81 across the Missouri River between Nebraska and South Dakota. The Meridian Highway Bridge connects Yankton, South Dakota, with rural Cedar County, Nebraska. The Meridian Bridge is a double deck bridge, with the top level having carried traffic into South Dakota from Nebraska, and the lower level having carried traffic into Nebraska from South Dakota.
The bridge crosses the Missouri Rier, connecting Yankton, South Dakota to the north with Cedar County, Nebraska to the south. Prior to the construction of the bridge, traffic moved between these two points via a ferry service, started in 1870, and a seasonal pontoon bridge, first installed in 1890. The pontoon bridge was disassembled and rebuilt twice a year, once to float on open water, and once to be placed on solid ice. After a 1915 initiative to build a permanent bridge faltered with the U.S. entrance into World War I, a new effort was started by the Yankton Chamber of Commerce 1919. Though fundraising problems caused a temporary halt in 1922, the new bridge, featuring a movable span to allow for river navigation, was completed during the summer of 1924.
The dedication ceremony was held on October 11, 1924 and the bridge opened as a toll bridge. It was the last link of the Meridian Highway, which became U.S. Route 81, to be completed. It was designed for use by trains on the lower level of the bridge and vehicular traffic on the upper level; a lift mechanism allowed river traffic to pass below. However, trains never used the lower level. In 1953, all tolls were lifted and the two levels were converted to one-way traffic, northbound on the top, southbound on the bottom. In the 1980s, the lift mechanism and counterweights were removed, and the decorative iron railings on the upper level were replaced by Jersey barricades.
On May 9, 2008, a 10-ton gross weight limit was placed on the bridge after an inspection found corrosion on the gusset plates. It was replaced by the Discovery Bridge upon its opening on October 11, 2008, exactly 84 years after the dedication of the Meridian Highway Bridge.
Present and Future Use
With completion of the Discovery Bridge, the Meridian Bridge has been converted into a pedestrian/bike trail. The bridge reopened in November 2011 to non-motorized traffic only. A two block-long pedestrian plaza will be added.
- List of crossings of the Missouri River
- Discovery Bridge (Yankton)
- List of historic bridges in Nebraska
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Charlene K. Roise; Jeffrey A. Hess (June 30, 1991). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Meridian Bridge" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved January 11, 2016. Accompanying photo from 1990.
- "The South Dakota Highways Page: Highways 61 to 100. The upper deck for northbound traffic was terrifying for many people. Just a small guardrail and so high in the air. I saw a farmer-cattle hauler have his friend drive over the river and stop traffic so that he could cross on the lower level where you have steel girders on each side which give comfort and a sense of protection". Dm.net. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "Weight restriction imposed on Meridian Bridge". Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "City of Yankton, SD Discovery Bridge". Yanktonsd.org. 2012-05-29. Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "Nebraska Department of Roads". NebraskaTransportation.org. 2008-06-24. Archived from the original on 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "Meridian Bridge Plaza and Other Downtown Improvements" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-20.