There are lots of bridges in the Tri-Cities area, but can you name the bridge that is 117 years old? We drive or walk over them every day and all of them have an interesting history.
How Many Bridges Are In the Tri-Cities Area?
There are 7 bridges in the tri-Cities area according to google maps. They are listed as: Ed Hendler Bridge (Cable Bridge), Pioneer Memorial Bridge (Blue Bridge), Lee-Volpentest Bridges (Interstate 182 (I-182) Bridge), U.S. Highway 12 Bridge, Railroad Bridge #2, Railroad Bridge #3, Railroad Bridge #1. Do you know which one is the oldest?
The Cable Bridge
The Ed Hendler Bridge or Cable Bridge is also sometimes called the intercity bridge. “It was dedicated on September 8, 1978 and was the first major cable-stayed bridge to be built in the United States (and second-longest of its kind in the world at the time)” according to Wikipedia.
When Was the Cable Bridge Built?
The Cable Bridge is made “entirely of prestressed concrete, beginning with the towers and followed by the bridge deck, which was cast in individual segments, raised up and secured to each other. It was constructed in 1978 and replaced the Pasco–Kennewick Bridge, an earlier span demolished in 1990” according to Wikipedia. That means this bridge is only 44 years old.
The Blue Bridge
“The Blue Bridge (officially named the Pioneer Memorial Bridge) is a four-lane arch-truss bridge connecting Pasco, Washington to Kennewick, Washington. U.S. Route 395 crosses the Columbia River via this bridge. The name comes from the blue paint used on the truss superstructure, with white paint on the suspension beams” according to Wikipedia.
The Blue Bridge Was Not Always Blue
When the bridge was built, it was originally painted green because green was the official color of Washington State. “Work was completed in the summer of 1954 with a total cost of about $7.1 million. The bridge was dedicated without an official name on July 30, 1954. The Pioneer Memorial Bridge moniker was chosen in a radio contest in 1967, but locals used their own nicknames. After the bridge was repainted from green to blue, the Blue Bridge moniker became the most popular among Tri-City residents” according to Wikipedia.
When Was the Blue Bridge Built?
“The bridge was first proposed in 1949 as the previous bridge (commonly referred to as the Green Bridge) was unable to handle the 10,000+ cars that were crossing it daily. Work on the bridge was begun on September 19, 1951. Work was completed in the summer of 1954 with a total cost of about $7.1 million” according to Wikipedia. This bridge is not old enough at only 68 years old.
The Green Bridge
A bridge that does not exist except for a small piece near the cable bridge, the original Green bridge belongs on this list also. When some people see the Cable Bridge, they also see the Green Bridge in their head. “The Pasco–Kennewick Bridge or Benton–Franklin Inter-County Bridge, known locally as the Green Bridge, was a steel cantilever truss bridge in the northwest United States. It crossed the Columbia River in central Washington, connecting Pasco and Kennewick, two of the Tri-Cities. Succeeded by the Cable Bridge in 1978, it was demolished in 1990” according to Wikipedia.
What Is Left of the Green Bridge?
After the bridge was demolished a part of the bridge was left as a reminder. “One pier, as well as several wood and concrete footings portions several meters above the river bottom only visible while scuba diving, remains and serves as a scenic lookout from which the newer bridge may be seen” according to Wikipedia.
When Was the Green Bridge Built?
“The bridge was completed in 1922 after only a year of construction, replacing an outmoded ferry system in which a single trip transported a maximum of six cars across the Columbia River. It was in fact the first bridge for vehicular traffic across the middle part of the Columbia River (only ferries and rail bridges were previously available)” according to Wikipedia. That makes this bridge, at least parts of it, 100 years old. That is still not old enough to be the oldest bridge in Tri-Cities.
The BNSF Rail Bridge
“During the 1880s, steamboats and railroads connected what would become known as Kennewick to the other settlements along the Columbia River. Until the construction of a railroad bridge, rail freight from Minneapolis to Tacoma had to cross the Columbia River via ferry. In 1887, a temporary railroad bridge was constructed by the Northern Pacific Railroad connecting Kennewick and Pasco. That bridge could not endure the winter ice on the Columbia and was partially swept away in the first winter” according to Wikipedia.
The BNSF Rail Bridge Was Rebuilt
“A new, more permanent bridge was built in its place in 1888. It was around this time that a town plan was first laid out, centered around the needs of the railroad” according to Wikipedia. “The new S-Class locomotives, introduced by the Northern Pacific shortly after the turn of the century, were too heavy for the wooden trusses of the Columbia Bridge. The superstructure was rebuilt in steel between July 1905 and October 1906 at a cost of $314,805” according to Bridgehunter.
Is The BNSF Rail Bridge the Oldest in the Tri-Cities?
The steel version of this bridge that last still today was built in 1905, making it 117 years old. Another change to the bridge happened when “a vertical lift draw span replaced the swing span in 1954 when completion of McNary Dam opened the river to barge traffic as far upstream as Richland” according to Bridgehunter. You cannot drive across it, but the BNSF Rail Bridge IS the oldest in the Tri-Cities.
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