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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Former Business-94 Missouri River Highway Crossing
Bismarck, ND

Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)

• Structure ID: NBI 0094920914
• Location: River Mile ???
• River Elevation: 1,625 Feet
• Highway: Interstate I-94 Business Loop (ND-94)
• Daily Traffic Count: 0, Bridge Closed On August 1, 2008.
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss Through Deck
• Length: 2,550 Feet, 3 Each 476 Foot Main Spans
• Width: 27 Feet, 2 Lanes
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: 40 Feet
• Date Built: Opened August 1922, Dedicated September 18, 1922
According to the Liberty Bridge Project website, by 1912, a rough network of highways was laid out across the US. The highway that ran through North Dakota was know as the Red Trail, and later became US-10. The cross-country trip was interrupted at Bismarck by the Missouri River. Up to 10,000 cars a year wanted to cross the river, and the line for the ferry would back up for several hours. In the winter, cars could cross the ice, but crossing was not possible in the spring or the fall. There was no easy way to bypass Bismarck. The nearest bridges over the Missouri River were at Great Falls, Montana and Sioux City, Iowa, a distance of over 500 miles in each direction.

By 1919, momentum was in place to build a permanent bridge. The site that was picked was just down stream of the Northern Pacific High Bridge. It was believed that heavy winter ice would break up when it hit the massive granite piers of the railroad bridge, and the chunks would then flow easily under the new highway bridge. The bridge itself consisted of 3 large though truss spans built in the Warren-Turner design. The bridge required 18 months to build, and it cost $1,375,000.

The competed bridge was the longest bridge in North Dakota at the time. It was also the last gap in US-10 to be filled. Once the bridge opened, it was possible for the first time to drive coast to coast without having to take a ferry boat. The bridge was named the Liberty Memorial Bridge to honor the World War I vets.

The building of the Interstate highway system moved the through traffic from US-10 over to I-94. US-10 was turned back to county maintenance, and I-94 was co-signed with US-10 markers. The former US-10 route though town was renamed I-94 Business Loop, which included the Liberty Memorial Bridge. The west end of the bridge connected to I-194, a short spur off of I-94. While the Liberty Memorial Bridge was no longer the main highway bridge, it still was an important bridge, carrying about two-thirds as much traffic as the I-94 bridge.

The Liberty Memorial Bridge was designed to last 50 years. It far outlived that age, and it was 84 years old when new replacement bridge was started. Local residents want to keep the old bridge in place as a local monument and tourist attraction. The state, however, still plans to demolish this historic bridge in 2009. That will be a huge loss since this is the last standing Warren-Turner truss bridge in the nation.

Update—this bridge was closed on July 31, 2008, at 11:00 AM. The western of the 3 truss spans was imploded on Monday, October 6, 2008. The remaining two spans are scheduled to be dropped before October 20.

Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)
Liberty Memorial Bridge (Old)

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