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Jefferson Avenue Footbridge

Jefferson Avenue Footbridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 14, 2016

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Jefferson Avenue (Pedestrian Walkway) Over Railroad (BNSF)
Springfield: Greene County, Missouri: United States
Structure Type
Metal Cantilever 20 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 3 Panel Rivet-Connected Queenpost Pony Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1902 By Builder/Contractor: American Bridge Company of New York, New York and Engineer/Design: J. W. Hoover of Kansas City, Missouri
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
175.0 Feet (53.3 Meters)
Structure Length
562.0 Feet (171.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

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Bridge Documentation

This bridge's future is at risk!

View National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form For This Bridge

This bridge is an extremely rare example of a cantilever truss footbridge. Because cantilever truss bridges were usually used for long-span crossings over large navigable rivers, they typically were not used for pedestrian-only crossings, which typically are not found on these types of crossings. However in this case, the long-span capability of the cantilever truss enables this footbridge to pass over a railroad yard without the need for many piers or bents which would obstruct the railroad. Aside from its rarity as a cantilever truss footbridge, this is a particularly old surviving cantilever truss of any type in the United States. Most date to after 1920. Lastly, this 1902 bridge, having been built by the American Bridge Company, is an early surviving bridge built under the American Bridge name, as this company had only formed a couple years earlier.

The bridge has a 175 foot main span (with the center four panels being the suspended span), with 100 foot anchor arm spans at each end, for a total cantilever truss length of 375 feet. A rare Queenpost pony truss approach span at the south end (which may not be original), and some stringer spans and stairways add to the overall length of the bridge, with an approximate total of 562 feet including stairways. The cantilever truss is unaltered and retains excellent historic integrity. The approach and stairways however have been altered from the design shown in original drawings, however the reconfigured approaches appear to have been built by simply salvaging and reusing the original approach structural steel and railing.

This bridge includes ornamental finials on the towers (main posts), and retains original lattice railing. It is an outstanding bridge and in 2002 it was rehabilitated. Interpretive signage is placed near the bridge. Nearby "Historic C-Street City Market" logos include the bridge truss in the logo. By all appearances this bridge would seem like it was preserved and appreciated. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least in city government, because the city is now planning to demolish and replace this unique bridge! This is ridiculous. The bridge was closed and fenced off a while ago after bridge inspectors found some pack rust and section loss. Actually, to be accurate, the engineering firm called the pack rust "crevice corrosion" although this term is not industry standard, and its not clear who came up with that term. Rather than propose repairs of the pack rust, and other simple repairs to maintain the bridge as-is for the long term, the city's engineering firm instead is now claiming the bridge must have a 90PSF load rating per AASHTO guidelines (please note that AASHTO guidelines are "Guidelines" and not laws or standards). This bridge does NOT need a 90PSF rating. Only extremely busy bridges such as foot bridges overlooking famous European castles, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and similar bridges ever achieve the density of people required to produce 90PSF. Most people would call the police if a strange stood close enough to them to achieve a density of 90PSF. A group of concerned citizens hired another engineering firm with experience restoring historic bridges, and they proposed a much more reasonable rehab that cost less, would have lesser long-term maintenance costs, and would provide a safe load capacity for the actual levels of usage of this bridge. It remains to be seen whether the city will come to its senses and choose this rehabilitation option and retain this beautiful and iconic city landmark.

An original plan sheet from the bridge is shown below.


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Maps and Links: Jefferson Avenue Footbridge

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