U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Columbus Loup River Bridge
|US Hwy 30 over the Loup River
South Edge of Columbus
Platte County, Nebraska
Total Length: 1270 ft.
Roadway Width: 24 ft.
7-Span, 8-Panel, Parker Through Truss
TYPE: Rigid-connected Parker through truss
BUILT: 1932-33 by the Omaha Steel Company
Built in 1888, the multiple-span bridge over the Loup River at its mouth south of Columbus was one of Nebraska's most visually striking wagon trusses. The structure, combined with another truss over the Platte River nearby, served as a regionally important vehicular crossing. The two proved strategic in the routing of the Lincoln Highway between Fremont and Grand Island in the 1910s.
By the late 1920s, however, both bridges had become liabilities. The Nebraska Bureau of Roads and Bridges replaced the Platte River bridge in 1930-31, and late in 1931 bureau engineers designed a replacement for the Loup River bridge. Comprised of seven riveted Parker through trusses, this latter structure was immense, consuming nearly 2 million pounds of superstructural steel, some 15,000 feet of steel piling and almost 2,000 cubic yards of concrete.
The state bureau of roads ordinarily avoided truss construction in favor of steel stringers and deck girders for its multiple-span structures over the Platte and Loup rivers. "As might be expected the steel-truss type of bridge is being used sparingly," the bureau later reported, "due to the better adaptation of deck [girder] construction to the Nebraska terrain and stratigraphy." The Columbus Bridge was a marked departure from this policy. Early in 1932 the bureau awarded a contract to build the new bridge to the Omaha Steel Company. The existing trusses were dismantled, and two of the spans were later moved to Sheridan County. Omaha Steel spent over a year fabricating and building the new bridge, completing it in mid-1933. The Columbus Loup River Bridge has since carried vehicular traffic along heavily traveled U.S. Highway 30.
The Columbus Loup River Bridge is historically significant to the development of Nebraska transportation as an important river crossing. With an overall length of 1,270 feet, it is today distinguished as the longest vehicular truss bridge in the state, aside from the Missouri River structures.