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Nebraska Division

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Historic Bridges of Nebraska

Webster County

Red Cloud Bridge

State Hwy 281 over Republican River
2 Miles South of Red Cloud
Webster County, Nebraska
Total Length: 644 ft.
Roadway Width: 23.8 ft.
3-Span, Rigid-Connected Continuous
Warren Pony Through Truss
TYPE: Rigid-connected, continuous Warren pony/through truss
BUILT: 1935 by the Omaha Structural Steel Works
S281 00423
Red Cloud Bridge

The Nebraska Bureau of Roads and Bridges designed the Red Cloud Bridge in 1935, after spring floods weakened the old structure. "While the floods of May and June 1935, did not wash the old Red Cloud bridge away," the bureau stated, "it did change the banks of the river to such an extent that it was deemed most expedient to construct a new bridge with longer spans and at a changed location." The fact that the project was to be paid entirely with federal emergency flood relief funds also encouraged the state to build a new bridge.

Although the bureau generally built simply supported trusses, it instead delineated a continuous truss for the Red Cloud Bridge. The channel spans are three continuous pony trusses, a 200-foot central span and 160-foot ends, flanked by deck girder approaches. To provide sway bracing, overhead lateral struts connect the upper chords of both webs at the concrete piers. Highway department engineers took great pains to ensure that the bridge was seated properly to avoid undue stresses at the bearing points, weighing each truss with hydraulic jacks before the concrete deck was poured.

The Omaha Structural Steel Works fabricated and erected the structure in 1935 for $83,000. Since its completion, the Red Cloud Bridge has carried relatively heavy vehicular traffic in essentially unaltered condition. It is significant as a major highway crossing of the Republican River in southern Nebraska. The structure is technologically significant as a rare experimental design by the state highway department. Representing an unusual foray into continuous truss engineering, the Red Cloud Bridge is unique in Nebraska.

Page last modified on July 6, 2018
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