The McKinley Bridge long carried both rail and auto traffic across the river, in a tight relationship that grew increasingly precarious as car size and speed increased. The strange design places auto traffic outside the main trusses on "outriggers". Additional auto traffic could travel on lanes inside the trusses -- lanes that were shared with the railroad tracks!
The toll bridge deposited traffic in the village of Venice, Illinois; its approaches carried travellers through the air past the imposing Venice Power Plant. The bridge was engineered by Ralph Modjeski, a prolific bridge designer, and opened in 1910.
Rail traffic was removed from the bridge some years ago, and the various approaches abandoned. Several of them are visible throughout the area, such as the west approach ramp, a small surviving fragment of the eastern approach ramp, and the now-demolished eastern approach trestle, which had long stood rotting and partially collapsed amid farm fields.
By the 1990s, the roadway was sufficiently deteriorated that crossing the bridge could be a harrowing experience. The bridge was closed in 2001. After standing idle for several years, the McKinley Bridge has been reconditioned and re-opened, with a new car deck and new approach ramps. The outrigger roadway is now a pedestrian and bike path. The restored bridge opened to traffic in 2008.
McKinley Bridge Update - a KETC Living St. Louis segment with a history of the bridge, and footage of the renovation work
The bridge seen from downtown, before the original approaches were removed. Click for a larger view.
A view from the Illinois side, before the new approaches were constructed.
The decent of the elevated trestle that carried the rails across the industrial area. After touching down, the rails almost immediately began rising again to approach the bridge.
The long-abandoned Missouri-side railroad approaches to the bridge.
And the same view in 2008, with the newly constructed bike path.
The new roadway approach ramp.
Dedication plaque on the bridge.
The Illinois-Missouri state line, at mid-river.
The view of downtown from the bridge.