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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Highway Crossing
Omaha, NE

I-80 Missouri River Bridge

Westbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI ??? (NE), ??? (IA).
• Length: 2,469 Feet, 425 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 84 Feet (3 Lanes, Room For 5 Lanes).
• Date Built: Opened August, 2010.
 
Eastbound Span
• Structure ID: NBI S080 45531 (NE), 45082 (IA).
• Length: 2,469 Feet, 425 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 76 Feet (3 Lanes, Room For 5 Lanes).
• Date Built: 1972.
 
Statistics Common To Both Spans
• Location: River Mile 613.9.
• River Elevation: 961 Feet.
• Highway: Interstate I-80.
• Daily Traffic Count: 81,300 (2008).
• Bridge Type: Steel Plate Girder.
• Navigation Channel Width: 400 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 75 Feet (57 Feet To Low Steel).
Interstate 80 is essentially the Main Street of America. While construction of the highway began in Nebraska in 1957, the link between Iowa and Nebraska over the Missouri River was not completed until 1972. That bridge, which currently carries eastbound traffic towards Iowa, was originally marked for two eastbound and two westbound lanes, with a concrete divider down the middle and wide shoulders on the outside of the bridge deck.

By the start of the 21st Century, the interstate system though Council Bluffs was carrying double its original design capacity. The system was long overdue for an upgrade. A $700-million project was defined to expand I-29, I-80, and I-480. Part of this upgrade included a 2nd span for I-80 over the Missouri River. Construction on the new bridge began during the last week of February, 2008, with clearing of trees and site preparation work.

Jensen Construction of Des Moines, Iowa, was the lead contractor on the new parallel bridge span. They worked on the original bridge some 35 years earlier when they had the contract to build the bridge piers. They were too small of a company at that time to take on the entire bridge project. The company grew over the years, and has built many large bridges in recent years.

The new structure was opened to westbound traffic in August, 2010, while eastbound traffic remained on the old structure. A little while later, the eastbound traffic was also moved onto the new structure. That allowed the deck of the older bridge to be rehabilitated, the center divider was removed, and the bridge railings were rebuilt. On November 4, 2011, eastbound traffic was moved back to the old bridge. Since that time, there has been three lanes of traffic on each bridge despite the bridges being wide enough for five lanes of traffic. The bridges will be fully utilized once the nearby I-29 interchange is reconstructed and the highway is able to support all ten lanes being in use.

The photo above is a view of the downstream south face of the I-80 Missouri River Bridge spans over the Missouri River as seen from the Iowa side of the river. Nebraska is on the far side of the river. The photo below is looking east along Interstate highway I-80 towards Council Bluffs, Iowa, from the Riverview Boulevard overpass over the highway in Omaha. The original span is on the right, while the new span on the left carries the oncoming traffic heading into Nebraska.


I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
The photo above is the upstream north face of the I-80 bridge, while the photo below is the downstream south face of the structure. The photo above is taken from the regional bicycle trail that passes under the east end of the bridges. The photo below was taken from the riverbank just downstream of the river crossing.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
The photo above is the east bridge abutment on the Iowa side of the Missouri River. The photo below is looking north towards the first bridge spans, which cross over a bicycle trail that runs along the riverfront in Council Bluffs. The bridge abutment is fenced off similar to the I-480 Grenville Dodge Bridge located 2 miles upstream.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos show the east pier for the main navigation channel span over the Mighty Mo. The photo above shows the steel girder structure and bridge deck above the pier. Note the large gantry sign that is attached to the bridge structure. The photo below show the bridge piers at this location. The bridge piers on the new bridge (in the background) are located to exactly line up with the original bridge (in the foreground) in order to preserve the width of the river navigation channel.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
The photo above is looking back towards the Iowa side of the structure from the east riverbank. Note the transition in the height of the steel girders at this bridge pier. The main channel steel is about twice as tall as the side channel spans. The main channel girders support three spans, the 425 foot navigation channel span (seen below) as well as one span on each side of the navigation channel. The photo below was taken from a river overlook on the trails at the Western Historic Trails Center.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These photos are two additional views of the I-80 Missouri River Bridge as seen from the river overlook on the trails at the Western Historic Trails Center. The photo above shows the western half of the main channel span plus an adjacent span that also uses the taller girders. The photo below is a little closer view that shows the transition back to the shorter girders. The Union Pacific Railroad tracks pass under the bridge just beyond the second set of piers.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos, plus the six that follow, show a typical bridge crossing traveling westbound into Omaha, Nebraska. In the photo above, we are traveling on the exit ramp from southbound I-29 to westbound I-80. In the photo below, we are just entering the east end of the newer westbound span. Note that there are three lanes, with a very wide amount of unused space for future traffic lanes on our right.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos continue our westbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are on the first span just crossing over the bicycle trail, which we are not able to see when looking off to the side of the structure. In the photo below, we are over the river flats right at the east bank of the Missouri River.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos continue our westbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are nearing the center of the center of the Missouri River, while in the photo below, we have crossed the Missouri River, and are above the levee and railroad tracks on the west side of the river.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos complete our westbound Missouri River crossing on the I-80 Missouri River Bridge. In the photo above, we are nearing the west end of the bridge, while in the photo below, we are climbing the grade in front of Kenefick Park and the Omaha Botanical Gardens. The Riverside Boulevard overpass is visible ahead.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos, and the four that follow, show a typical bridge crossing heading eastbound from Omaha, Nebraska, driving towards Council Bluffs, Iowa. In the photo above, we are approaching the west end of the older eastbound bridge span. In the photo below, we are crossing the river flats above the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos continue our eastbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are passing a large gantry sign at mid-river detailing the Interstate I-29 exits on the east side of the river. The northbound ramp to I-29 is a left exit, which often results in lane changes as people are caught by surprise by the unusual left exit. The photo below is another gantry sign supporting the Iowa welcome sign, located directly above the east river bank.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos complete our eastbound Missouri River crossing. In the photo above, we are nearing the east end of the eastbound bridge span, while in the photo below, we are on the left exit heading onto Interstate highway I-29 northbound.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
The photo above is the view looking south at the end of River Road on the Iowa side of the river. The regional bicycle trail runs along River Road, then becomes a stand-alone path just beyond the gate near the orange sign in the center of the photo. The new bridge span is in the foreground. This area did not flood in 2011, though the levee was raised a few feet as a precaution to avoid flooding out the industries in this area. The land on the south side of I-80 did flood, including submerging the main building of the Western Historic Trail Center. The photo below is the underside of the two bridge spans. The steel girders transition to the large size above the first set of piers in this photo. Since it is dark under the bridge, the rest of the photo is overexposed.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos are looking west between the two parallel bridge spans. The photo above is from about 250 feet from the edge of the river, while the photo below is from the east river bank. The piers on the new span (on the right) were designed to look like the piers on the older span, though the new piers are built wider and taller.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
The photo above is the underside of the newer bridge span, while the photo below is the older bridge span. The newer bridge has 8 parallel steel girders, whereas the older bridge has only 5. That gives the newer bridge additional redundancy. Note that there is a catwalk running under the deck between each set of girders. This is to aid in inspecting the structure.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos are additional views under the two parallel spans of the I-80 Missouri River Bridge. Note that the newer bridge has only 5 parallel girders at this location. It appears that the secondary spans have 8 girders, but the main spans have only 5.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge
I-80 Missouri River Bridge
These two photos are views under the bridge at the east bridge abutment. It is interesting to note that the older bridge has diagonal cross-braces whereas the new bridge does not. Yet in the photos above showing the underside of the main spans, both bridge have diagonal cross-braces. These cross-braces are used to resist twisting of the structure. I suspect that when only 5 girders are used, twisting is a factor that requires the braces, but the 8 girder sections are rigid enough to not require the diagonal braces. Also note a fence in the structure on the older bridge above. I suspect that authorities had issues with people climbing onto the catwalks. It does look like an irresistible place to explore.

I-80 Missouri River Bridge

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