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Martin Luther King Bridge

Veterans Memorial Bridge

Martin Luther King Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 15, 2016

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Key Facts

St. Louis and East St. Louis: St. Louis City, Missouri and St. Clair County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Cantilever 24 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 8 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1951 By Builder/Contractor: J. Howard, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: Hazelet and Erdal of Chicago, Illinois, George A. Maney, and Charles Alton Ellis

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
962 Feet (293.2 Meters)
Structure Length
4,010 Feet (1222.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
38 Feet (11.58 Meters)
3 Main Span(s) and 31 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historical Newspaper Article For Grand Opening of This Bridge

Although this is a relatively late example of a riveted cantilever through truss, it remains highly significant due to the increasing rarity of this bridge type in the United States thanks to demolition. Further, the bridge is technologically significant for the length of the main cantilever span.

Planning for the bridge was directed by the engineering firm of George A. Maney and Associates. George A. Maney died during the early engineering stages of the project. Maney, according to local news articles, was also working with Charles A. Ellis on this project, but he died in 1949, so apparently his involvement with this bridge was only in the design stage. Ellis is of note in engineering history as he was responsible for the majority of the engineering design of the Golden Gate Bridge. After these deaths, engineering was taken over by another noted engineering firm, Hazelet and Erdal.

Many contractors were involved with the actual bridge construction. The general contractor for the bridge was J. Howard, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois. Massman Construction Company of Kansas City, Missouri (successor to the noted Kansas City Bridge Company of Kansas City, Missouri) was the substructure contractor. A number of contractors and subcontractors were involved with the superstructure fabrication and erection. These included the Robinson Erection Company of St. Louis, Missouri, Midland Steel and Allied Fabricators, Stupp Brothers of St. Louis, Missouri, and the Bethlehem Steel Company of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and John F. Beasley Company of Muskogee, Oklahoma.

The configuration of the bridge is as follows:

Missouri Approach
- Span W: 45'-0" simple beam span
- Spans X, Y, 1 and 2: 238'-0" continuous four-span beam span
- Span 3: 53'-0" simple beam span
- Spans 4 and 6: 240'-0" continuous two-span girder/stringer/cross-beam span (no existing span is identified as Span 5)
- Spans 7 - 8: 94'-0" continuous two-span beam span Main Spans
- Spans 9 - 11: 1902'-10" three-span cantilevered through truss
Illinois Approach
- Spans 12 and 13: 213'-1" simple deck truss spans
- Spans 14 - 17, 19 - 22, 24 - 27 and 29 - 32: 216'-3" continuous four-span beam spans
- Spans 18, 23 and 28: 45'-9" simple beam spans

Structurally a separate bridge (dimensions omitted from technical facts table above), but otherwise part of the same bridge system is the Illinois Approach Bridge, immediately east of this bridge. The main span of this bridge is a rivet-connected polygonal Warren through truss.

Above: Panoramic view of cantilever truss spans.

Above: The Illinois Approach Bridge.


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