U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Big Blue River Bridge
|County Road over W. Fork of Big Blue River
5 Miles North, 1 Mile West of Grafton
Fillmore County, Nebraska
Total Length: 52 ft.
Roadway Width: 20 ft.
1-Span, Concrete Filled Spandrel Arch
BUILT: 1918 by Frank N. Craven
After some initial experimentation with concrete bridge construction in the early 1900s, Fillmore County built concrete arch and slab spans almost exclusively from 1914 through the 1920s. The state engineer appears to have been largely responsible for the county's acceptance of concrete. The state was a major proponent of concrete, touting it as a more durable alternative to steel. Fillmore County relied on state bridge plans until 1918, when William A. Biba became county engineer. Biba, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, appears to have designed all of the county's bridges until 1931 (using state plans as a model).
Designed in 1918, this 50-foot concrete arch was apparently one of Biba's first bridges. It was built that year by Exeter, Nebraska, contractor Frank N. Craven for $4,250. As one of more than thirty such small-scale concrete structures remaining in the county, the Big Blue River Bridge represents early concrete bridge construction in Nebraska.