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Historic Bridges of Nebraska

Nemaha County

Brownville Bridge

US Hwy 136 over the Missouri River
East Edge of Brownsville
Nemaha County, Nebraska
Total Length: 1904 ft.
Roadway Width: 22.5 ft.
2-Span, Rigid-Connected Warren Cantilever Through Truss
BUILT: 1939 by the Bethlehem Steel Company et al.
S136 24018
Brownville Bridge

The Atchison County, Missouri, supervisors initiated the planning for this bridge over the Missouri River in the late 1930s, retaining the prestigious firm, Ash, Howard, Needles and Tammen (AHNT), for its design and construction supervision. AHNT modeled the new structure on another two-span, continuous truss bridge the firm had built over the Missouri River at South Omaha in 1934-35, changing details and construction methods of the previous design to improve aesthetics and reduce cost. Whereas, according to one engineer, the South Omaha structure used a "hodge podge of deck trusses, girder spans and trestles" for its approach spans, AHNT's Brownville Bridge would use only continuous deck girder approaches.

Twelve contractors from across the country submitted bids to the Atchison County Court on November 14, 1938. Company representatives were so thick in the small town of Rock Port that the Hotel Opp set up cots in the recreation room to accommodate the overflow crowd. The C.F. Lytle Company of Sioux City, Iowa, received the contract to build the concrete substructure, and the Bethlehem Steel Company of Pennsylvania was hired to fabricate and erect the steel superstructure. Construction began early in 1939. The bridge was completed by October for a cost of over $700,000. Its dedication on December 11 featured speakers, local band performances and a festival-like atmosphere.

For years Atchison County operated the bridge as a toll crossing to repay its bondholders and cover maintenance expenses. Eventually paid off, it is now owned and maintained by the State of Missouri as a free crossing.

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