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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Future US-81 Missouri River Highway Crossing
Yankton, SD

Yankton Discovery Bridge

• Structure ID: TBD
• Location: River Mile 806 (Approximate)
• River Elevation: 1,161 Feet
• Highway: Future US-81
• Daily Traffic Count: TBD
• Bridge Type: Steel Girder, Concrete Deck
• Length: 1,591 Feet, 134 Foot Longest Span
• Width: 85 Feet, 4 Lanes
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: 30 Feet
• Date Built: Started June 1, 2007, Estimated Open Oct, 2008
The historic life bridge in Yankton is considered to be obsolete. It has narrow lanes and low clearance, plus a jog in the upper roadway. This combines to make it difficult for trucks to use the bridge, and impossible for farm equipment to cross the structure. As a result, a new bridge was authorized and funded for Yankton. When completed in late 2008, US-81 will be rerouted to cross the new bridge.

The City of Yankton held a contest to name the bridge. Ten names were suggested that people could vote for, but citizens wrote in over 200 other choices. The winner was the Yankton Discovery Bridge, named after the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery. The State of Nebraska has taken issue with this process, saying that they have their own process of naming bridges. As a result, there is a small controversy over the name, and the bridge might end up with two official names.

Some articles on the Yankton bridges claim that they are part of the Pan-American Highway. As it turns out, the Pan-American Highway is defined in Mexico and South American, but has never been designated in the US or Canada. Various groups have suggested (and have drawn maps) routes from as far west as I-5 in California to I-35 through Minnesota. One such group, the Pan American Highway Association advocates a route that follows US-81 from Wichita, Kansas, to Watertown, South Dakota, passing through Yankton.

The bridge itself is steel girder bridge with a concrete deck. This is very similar to the two new Missouri River bridges located upstream and downstream from Yankton. Unlike those two bridges, the Discovery Bridge is nearly level while the two neighboring bridges are set at a steep angle. At 134 feet wide, this is one of the widest bridges on the upper Missouri. The bridge project is planned to be completed by the end of 2008, but it is ahead of schedule, and may be open to traffic as early as October, 2008.


Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge
Yankton Discovery Bridge

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