Merchants Bridge, Under Reconstruction

Update: See the replacement of the middle span from August of 2022. The new bridge is now complete.

The venerable Merchants Bridge, which was built in 1890 and is the second oldest crossing at St. Louis, is being replaced by a new span which is using portions of the original.

The original granite bridge piers, which are four in number, are being encased in concrete to repair scouring that occurred from 131 years of river water eroding their sides. Then, to expedite construction and safety, each of three new trusses are being hoisted into place fully built.

The bridge approaches were rebuilt back in 2005, apparently.

While I was viewing the construction scene on a Saturday, work was continuing, and a barge full of rock was moving past the bridge, presumably to build up a dyke nearby.

The giant lifts that brought the trusses up into place are truly impressive.

Presumably, they will move to the west and start on the central span next.

As can be seen below, the original eastern truss was removed in one piece and now sits along the Missouri side of the river.

The western river pier has still not been completely encased in its new concrete sheath yet.

I’m sad to see such an historic bridge go, but practical matters have intervened. Train speeds were down to 2 mph, and only one train could cross at a time. I doubt the original industrialists and businessmen who built the Merchants Bridge would want their creation to remain if it would affect the competitiveness of St. Louis rail connections.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hans Lothander says:

    The Merchant Bridge project is a good one to watch. Please keep us updated.
    Thx for your blog.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      It’s a fascinating engineering project! I’ll be back as construction proceeds.

  2. ME says:

    Will the original trusses just end up in the scrapyard? It would be awesome if they could be repurposed somehow, especially somewhere around that general riverfront vicinity (not in Chesterfield, etc.)

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I don’t know. I could only imagine if Bob Cassilly were still alive he would figure out some way to get them over to Cementland.

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