The bridge was authorized by Congress in 1991, but it took 10 years for the neighboring states to secure the $22-million in funding. Design work began in 1991, cost estimates were completed in 1993, and the environmental assessment was completed in 1994. Preliminary design work was finished in 1995, and the final design was unveiled in 1998. Bids were opened and contracts were let in April, 2000. Ground was broken for the bridge in July, 2000, and the bridge was dedicated on November 10, 2001. Since there was no bridge existing in this area, there were no roads leading to the river. As part of the project, 5.2 miles of new road was built on the South Dakota side, and 3.5 miles of new road was built on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River.
There was a controversy over the project name after the bridge opened. The project used the name Newcastle-Vermillion Bridge. Some locals took that as a temporary name, and wanted a formal name given to the bridge once it was opened. Many suggested the name Lewis & Clark Bridge, but that name is already in use in South Dakota. Others call it the Vermillion-Newcastle Bridge because Vermillion is the closer of the two cities. The final word came from the state highway departments, and that is that the name Newcastle-Vermillion Bridge is the official name of the structure. I have also seen the name Mulberry Bend Bridge used in print due its location at Mulberry Bend in the Missouri River.