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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
I-480 Missouri River Highway Crossing
Omaha, NE

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 45670 (IA), S48000413 (NE).
• Location: River Mile 615.9.
• River Elevation: 961 Feet.
• Highway: I-480, US-6.
• Daily Traffic Count: 51,595 (2010).
• Bridge Type: Steel Plate Girder.
• Length: 1,687 Feet, 425 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 109 Feet, 8 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: 400 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 54 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened November 21, 1966.
Interstate highway I-480 is an inner loop beltway that passes to the north and west of downtown Omaha, Nebraska. This five mile long freeway passes very near the President Gerald Ford Birthplace historic site, and as a result, the state of Nebraska named its segment of the highway after our 40th President, the Gerald R. Ford Freeway. The three-fourths mile of I-480 on the Iowa side of the river in Council Bluffs is not, however, officially named.

While Interstate I-480 is named after a Nebraska native, the bridge over the Missouri River is named after a famous Council Bluffs resident, Grenville Dodge. Dodge was a Civil War hero and served in Congress, but is most famous as the chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Dodge's home in Council Bluffs is now a National Historic Landmark.

The Missouri River bridge section of I-480 consists of 8 spans. Going east to west, the bridge starts about one-half mile west of Interstate I-29. The first 800 feet of the bridge crosses the river flats area in the Council Bluffs Riverfront Park. The bridge then has two over-water spans totaling about 700 feet. The final 200 feet of the bridge crosses over the riverbank on the west side of the Missouri River and joins the elevated freeway section of I-480. I-480 continues westbound as an elevated freeway for just over a mile before dropping down to ground level.

The Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge is a typical late 1960's style steel plate girder bridge. Large plates of steel were cut in the shape of the beams, and then caps were welded onto the edges of the plates to form massive I-beams that feature sculpted curves. This type of beam could not have been made using the more traditional rolling process in a mill. Beyond this design feature, the bridge is very institutional looking with no decorative features, typical of the early Interstate highway era.

The Grenville Dodge Bridge was rehabbed in 2001. Despite that work, the bridge is showing signs of age. For example, there is rust visible under the structure and some of the drain pipes have fallen off of the structure. Despite those issues, the bridge is basically sound, and its design with five main beams has the redundancy required to provide decades of additional service given some basic maintenance.

The photo above is looking west along the south face of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge across the Missouri River from the east riverbank. The downtown skyline of Omaha is visible on the far side of the river. The vantage point is located in the Council Bluffs Riverfront Park. The park was extensively damaged in a record flood during 2011. The city of Council Bluffs was not only cleaning up the damage, but also redeveloping the park. New trails were being added along the riverfront in addition to the existing bicycle trail that runs along the levee.


Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
The photo above is looking downstream from an observation deck on the west bank of the Missouri River near the Riverfront Place residential towers. We see the deck of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in the foreground, the north face of the highway I-480 Grenville Dodge bridge in the center, and the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge in the background. The photo below is looking upstream towards the I-480 bridge from the east bank of the Missouri River. The metal structure in the river is a remaining pier from the Ak-Sar-Ben Bridge. That bridge was removed in 1968, but this one bridge pier still remains.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are the first of 8 viewing the bridge spans in detail from east to west, from a vantage point on the east river bank. The photo above is the bridge abutment as seen from the levee bicycle trail. The photo below is the other half of the first bridge span, also seen from the levee bicycle trail.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our east to west tour of the bridge. The photo above is the second and third spans as seen from a new trail that was being built between the riverbank and the levee. The photo below is the eastern river navigation channel. The building in the background is the Lewis & Clark Trail Visitor Center, as well as the Riverfront Plaza residential towers.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos conclude our east to west tour of the bridge. The photo above is the western of the two navigation channels. The photo below is the west end of the bridge. A long elevated walkway carries pedestrians between the Lewis & Clark Landing area to the Heartland Of America Park, which are separated by railroad tracks and a floodwall.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
The photo above is the underside of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge on the east side of the Missouri River where the steel girders transition from a shorter and lighter size to being taller and heavier. The photo below is a close view of the top of the bridge pier at the transition point. Note the roller pin in the joint just to the right of the pier. This allows the bridge spans to freely move during thermal expansion and contraction cycles.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are the undersides of the main river spans. The photo above is the eastern of the two navigation channels, while the photo below is the bridge span over the western of the two navigation channels. These photos are somewhat underexposed to allow the details under the bridge to be seen. They would otherwise be in a dark shadow.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views looking west along the south face of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge. The photo above is a wider view that looks through a gap in the trees created when a drainage ditch was brushed out and regraded following the flood of 2011. The photo below is looking down the length of the bridge from under the south edge of the bridge deck. The bare silt is material that is being cleaned up after it was deposited by the flood.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of the bridge showing the sign gantry that supports the ‘Welcome To Nebraska’ sign. The photo above is looking southwest from north of the bridge, while the photo below is looking northeast from south of the bridge. Both views are again from the Council Bluffs Riverfront Park.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of drainage downspouts on the side of the bridge. In the photo above, we see that the downspout pipe is missing, while the photo below, from the other side of the bridge, shows what it is supposed to look like. The missing pipe is not that big of an issue, but you certainly wouldn't want to get hit by it when it fell.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos, and the 7 that follow, show a typical bridge crossing heading westbound from Iowa traveling into Omaha, Nebraska. The photo above is heading westbound on highway I-480 just after coming through the I-480 and I-29 interchange. The ramp entering on the right is from North 40th Street, which sneaks on to the highway only 200 feet beyond the ramp entering from I-29. Fortunately, it is a lightly used ramp. In the photo below, we have just entered the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our westbound crossing of the I-480 bridge. In the photo above, we are nearing the midpoint of the Missouri River, having passed the Nebraska welcome sign. In the photo below, we are at the end of the Grenville Dodge bridge, but we are entering a mile long section of elevated highway as I-480 passes over the downtown area.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our westbound crossing of the I-480 bridge. In the photo above, we are rounding a curve towards the northwest as I-480 jogs north to pass around the heart of downtown Omaha. In the photo below, we are starting to curve back to the west as we pass in front of the CenturyLink Center, a large downtown arena and civic center. The building directly ahead is the Hilton Omaha hotel.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our westbound crossing of the I-480 bridge. In the photo above, we are passing exit 3, North 14th Street, which is the second of two downtown exist. The other downtown exist was right at the west end of the bridge proper just before the highway made the curve to the northwest. The photo below is heading uphill as we are passing over North 14th Street. The tall buildings on the left side of the highway are part of Creighton University.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
The photo above concludes are westbound bridge crossing. At this point, I-480 passes over North 20th Street, and then returns to ground level. An interchange with US-75 is just over the hill, with I-480 making a 90 degree turn to the south, where it later rejoins I-80. The photo below is looking south down the Missouri River towards the north face of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge. The vantage point is the deck of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which rises nearly 60 feet above the river.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos, and the six that follow, show a typical crossing of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge heading eastbound from Omaha across the Missouri River into Council Bluffs, Iowa. The photo above is heading eastbound on highway I-480 coming down the hill from the interchange with US-75. There is a one mile segment of elevated highway leading up to the bridge over the Missouri River. At this point, we are passing the exits for South 20th Street and Capitol Avenue. The photo below is at the exits for 14th Street, with the Hilton Omaha and CenturyLink arena straight ahead.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our eastbound crossing of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge. In the photo above, we are heading southeast towards the Missouri River, passing in front of the CenturyLink Center. In the photo below, we curve back to the left to line up with the Grenville Dodge bridge, which crosses the river heading directly east. Harrah's Hotel & Casino is visible in the distance.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos continue our eastbound crossing of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge. In the photo above, we make the final turn to the left to approach the west end of the bridge structure. In the photo below, we are now on the bridge crossing the Missouri River.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos conclude our eastbound crossing of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge. In the photo above, we are on the final spans on the east end of the bridge passing over the Council Bluffs Riverfront Park. In the photo below, we are just exiting the bridge, and will shortly be on dry land. The interchange ahead is where I-480 ends at I-29.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
The photo above is a close view of the bridge abutment at the east end of the Grenville Dodge bridge. The photo below is the underside of the bridge structure at the abutment. The vantage point for these two photos is the bicycle train that runs along the top of the levee.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of the underside of the third bridge span when counting from the east end of the structure. The photo above is taken from just below the north face of the structure, while the photo below is from just south of the south face of the structure. The vantage point is a new paved trail that was under construction when I visited in late spring of 2012. Both photos are a bit underexposed to show the details in the steelwork under the bridge deck.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are detail views of the steelwork under the bridge deck. There are catwalks that run the length of the bridge between each of the five main bridge girders. Based on the amount of graffiti, it appears that these catwalks are popular places for youth to hang out despite the bridge abutment being fenced off.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are views of the Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge as seen from the riverfront in Omaha. Our vantage point is at Lewis & Clark Landing, located just upstream from the bridge. These photos were taken late in the evening when the sun was far enough north in the sky to light up the north side of the bridge. The photo above is a wider angle showing more of the bridge spans, while the photo below is a closer view focusing on the western of the two river channel spans.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge
These two photos are additional views from the Omaha side of the river, taken in the evening when the sun was lighting up the north face of the structure. The photo below is looking across the Missouri River towards the riverfront park in Council Bluffs. The photo below is looking east along the north face of the structure. The sun reflecting off of the water is lighting up the underside of the bridge near the middle of the river.

Grenville Dodge Memorial Bridge

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
For further information, contact: john@johnweeks.com