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Missouri River trail bridge links Omaha and Council Bluffs

Riverfront trails on both sides of the river will be joined by a nearly half mile long bridge being built by the city of Omaha, Nebraska in cooperation with Council Bluffs, Iowa.

By V.T. Miller

drawing of bridge

Water trail sign at a boat ramp - click to enlarge

The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is one of the longest pedestrian bridges ever built. Besides connecting two great communities the Missouri River Pedestrian Bridge carries walkers and cyclists between Iowa and Nebraska. Linking nearly 150 miles of trails on both sides of the river, the bridge not only serves as a transportation corridor, but will promote economic and community development. Local partners include the Cities of Omaha and Council Bluffs, the States of Iowa and Nebraska, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and others. Iowa funding has come from the Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and private donations.

Designed by HNTB Corporation of Kansas City the cable stay span will have the visual impact befitting a major river crossing.

The bridge's dramatic look comes from single-tower pylons, 200 feet above the water on both sides of the Missouri River that give the superstructure a simple elegance and opportunity for dramatic lighting. The towers carry a unique curved 506-foot main span and two 253-foot back spans.


drawing of bridge

Detail of sign on the Susquehanna River Water Trail (click to enlarge)

The bridge's deck features a constant, unobstructed width of 15-feet over the entire length of the bridge, widening out to 20-feet on the Omaha landing so that there will be enough width for both cyclists and pedestrians to comfortably share the path. The structure and its connections will be completely ADA compliant to ensure that everyone will be able to enjoy it.

The Omaha side is designed with a circular plaza providing public space for a variety of uses, while the Council Bluffs landing provides flexible connectivity to future developments in the vicinity of Playland Park.

Most of the funding for this signature bridge comes from federal transportation dollars. The project is largely funded by a $17 million grant secured by Senator Bob Kerrey. Nearly all the remaining funding has been secured including recently announced $1 million pledges each from The Peter Kiewit Foundation and the Iowa West Foundation.

drawing of curving bridge



Originally estimated to cost $22 million, the bridge was redesigned in 2004, after the lowest bid for the project was $44 million. In May 2006, a final cable-stayed bridge design by Kansas City engineering and architectural firm HNTB was selected for the bridge. The $22 million bid included two 200-foot (61 m) towers and a clearance of 52 feet (16 m) above the river. Groundbreaking for construction of the bridge occurred on October 26, 2006

The lights on the bridge were donated by Gallup, which has their corporate headquarters and Gallup University located on the Missouri River adjacent the Omaha landing of the bridge. The bridge lights include programmable controls that can display multiple colors in the large lights at the top of the towers and alter brightness and timing of the lights that run the entire length of the bridge.


drawing of bridge at night over river

Coming Soon to a Picture Postcard Near You!


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