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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Grant Marsh Bridge
I-94 Missouri River Highway Crossing
Bismarck, ND

Grant Marsh Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 0094156609
• Location: River Mile 1315.3
• River Elevation: 1,625 Feet
• Highway: Interstate I-94
• Daily Traffic Count: 24,125 (2002)
• Bridge Type: Steel Girder, Concrete Deck
• Length: 1,125 Feet
• Width: 60 Feet, 4 Lanes
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: 28 Feet
• Date Built: Built 1965, Rebuilt 2002
The Grant Marsh Bridge was built in 1965 as part of the I-94 project. This was the golden age of the Interstate highway system construction. As a result, the bridge was built as economically as possible. The result is a very serviceable steel girder bridge, but one with no decorative features. With highway interchanges on both ends of the bridge, and a very popular riverside park under the bridge, it is very easy to great views of this bridge, along with a fantastic view of the mighty Mo.

The Grant Marsh Bridge was built with old style guardrails. These are the type with concrete posts that carry a concrete rail. There are two problems with this type of railing. First, they are open at the road level, which lets rain and snowplows carry highway debris over the edge and into the river. Second, they are set perpendicular to traffic, when means that a car that strikes one of these guardrails essentially hits a brick wall. A more modern design has angles built into the railings, and the railings are closed off. One can see the openings in the guardrail in the upper photo, but the second photo shows how they were retrofit in 2002 with the angle design.

Following the I-35W bridge disaster, the State of North Dakota ordered an emergency inspection of all bridges. It was reported by the NTSB that the Grant Marsh Bridge was structurally deficient. In fact, it was given a very poor rating, one that would suggest that it should be replaced. This was a surprise to the state DOT, which rated the bridge in very good condition just two years earlier. It turns out that the inspection records were mixed up, and the structurally deficient bridge was the I-94 Business Loop bridge, which is located about 2 miles down stream. That bridge is in the process of being replaced, while the Grant Marsh Bridge was given a clean bill of health.

The Grant Marsh Bridge is named after a famous steamboat captain, Grant Marsh, who lived from May 11, 1834 to January 6, 1916. He was learned the steamboat trade on the Ohio River, then served with Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) on the Missouri River. He spent the war years transporting troops for the Union. Following the war, Marsh worked to open river navigation on the Missouri all the way up to Washburn. In 1876, Marsh piloted a steamboat carrying General Custer and this troops on its way to the battle at the Little Bighorn. Marsh headed back down river, and returned with a load of supplied for the Army. When they arrived, they leaned that Custer and his troops had been wiped out. Marsh proposed establishing a ferry crossing just north of the railroad bridge at Bismarck. When the I-94 bridge was set to be built in that same location 50 years later, it was only natural to name the bridge after this riverboat pioneer.


Grant Marsh Bridge
Grant Marsh Bridge
Grant Marsh Bridge

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