Rainbow Bridge (Texas)
Westbound approach to Rainbow Bridge
|Location||TX 87 at the Jefferson and Orange County line|
|NRHP Reference #||96001127|
|Added to NRHP||October 10, 1996|
The Rainbow Bridge is a through truss bridge crossing the Neches River in Southeast Texas just upstream from Sabine Lake. It allows State Highway 87 and State Highway 73 to connect Port Arthur in Jefferson County on the southwest bank of the river with Bridge City in Orange County on the northeast bank.
Construction on the bridge began in 1936 under the guidance of the Texas State Highway Department. Due to concerns by the upstream city of Beaumont about the bridge posing a threat to ship navigation, the Rainbow Bridge was built with a 680 foot (210 m) main span. In addition, it has a vertical clearance of 177.0 feet (54 m), which was intended to allow what was at the time the tallest ship in the US Navy, the USS Patoka, passage under the bridge (however, the Patoka never did). However, the height of the bridge did allow the construction of jack up offshore drilling rigs at the Bethlehem Steel Beaumont Shipyard. With seventy-two (72) rigs built, the shipyard was one of the major sources of offshore rigs built in the United States.
The bridge was completed on September 8, 1938. The nearby town of Prairie View took on the name "Bridge City" in response. Initially named the Port Arthur-Orange Bridge, it received its current name in 1957. The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Veterans Memorial Bridge
In 1988, construction began on the Veterans Memorial Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge. This bridge runs parallel to the Rainbow Bridge, and was dedicated on September 8, 1990. With a vertical clearance of 143 feet (43.5 m), the bridge is somewhat shorter than its neighbor.
After the completion of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge was closed for renovations. On its re-opening in 1997, the Rainbow Bridge became one way, handling westbound traffic only. The Veterans Memorial Bridge serves eastbound traffic.
- "Drilling Rigs Built in U.S.Shipyards". ShipbuildingHistory.com. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
- "History of Our Bridges". City of Bridge City. Retrieved 2013-06-14.
- "Bridge City Texas". Ohwy.com. Retrieved 2011-08-19.