The new South Omaha Veterans Memorial Bridge was in the planning process for a number of years. The planning became more serious after it was realized that the 1936-era structure was on the decline. Construction of the replacement bridge began in the fall of 2007. The bridge project consists of 3 main phases. The first is the construction of several spans of a concrete girder approach structure on the Iowa side of the river. Next, the main 625-foot long truss span over the river was started. The final phase is the concrete girder approach structure on the Nebraska side of the river. This final phase will require that the trestle spans of the old bridge be removed, resulting in the river crossing being closed for approximately 9 months.
Construction of the truss span is made more difficult by the fact that the river needs to remain open to navigation traffic during the construction project. A typical approach to building a truss span might be to build the truss on shore, float it to the job site, then lift it onto the piers. Given the huge side of the truss, that option is not practical in this case. Another typical approach would be to built a network of steel beams called falsework under the bridge to use as scaffolding and to support the unfinished span. In this case, falsework would interfere with river navigation. The solution to this problem is to install three temporary piers built from large steel cylinders. The large diameter of the cylinders provides stability. The distance between the temporary piers provides chutes for river traffic to pass the job site.
The new South Omaha Veterans Memorial Bridge is expected to be open for traffic in May, 2010. The new bridge features 4 lanes of highway traffic, a raised median, wide shoulders, and a barrier-separated regional trail on the north side of the bridge deck. The deck will be 88 feet wide, about four times the width of the old bridge.