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Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge



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History of the Bridge

Bill EmersonThe Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge is named for the eight-term Southeast Missouri congressman who helped lead efforts to secure funding for its construction. Mr. Emerson worked hard to secure Federal Highway Administration money to proceed with the construction. Mr. Emerson passed away in June 1996 shortly before the contract to build the bridge was awarded.


Mr. Emerson's House and Senate colleagues unanimously passed legislation three days after his death to name the new bridge in his honor. President Clinton later signed the legislation.


The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge was opened to traffic on December 13, 2003. The estimated cost of the bridge is $100 million. Eighty percent of the funding came from the federal government. Missouri and Illinois each contributed 10 percent. The structure is a 100-foot wide, 4,000-foot long cable stay bridge. It links Cape Girardeau, Mo., and East Cape Girardeau, Ill., and spans the Mississippi River. The Emerson Bridge is illuminated at night by 140 lights.


This structure was needed to safely and efficiently accommodate the many motorists who travel over the Mississippi River each day. Traffic on the structure is continually increasing and future projections indicate this trend will continue. Currently, 11,000 vehicles utilize the structure daily.


The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge serves our area as an important part of our transportation system and as a beautiful landmark for many years to come. It is a deserving tribute that the bridge is named in honor of a person who worked so hard for it to be built.

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Fun Facts About The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge For Kids

The Bill Emerson Bridge in Cape Girardeau was a huge project for the entire state. Each day, it serves thousands of people. To help those cars, trucks and motorcycles safely cross the Mississippi River, a lot of things were used to build the bridge.

MoDOT used 13 million pounds of reinforcing steel to build the bridge. That is equal to the weight of 1,300 elephants. The steel makes the bridge strong to hold all the vehicles.

The cables used in the bridge stretch for 171 miles. If you lined skateboards up for 171 miles it would take 361,152 skateboards. The cables hold the bridge up out of the water.

The 243,688,500 pounds of concrete used to build the bridge is equal to the weight of 902,550 professional wrestlers. The concrete is smoothed flat and provides a surface for the cars to drive on.

The overall weight of the bridge is 266 million pounds. That is equal to the weight of 304 jets.

The beams used to build the bridge weigh 15 million pounds. That is 3,157,894 gallons of ice cream! The beams are located under the road and also make the bridge strong.

The bridge is 100 feet wide. It would take 85 large pizzas lined up next to each other to stretch across the new bridge. The bridge has two driving lanes going into Illinois and two lanes leading to Missouri. Plus, it has a lot of extra space between the road and the edge of the bridge. This space is good in case cars break down and need to pull over.

The Emerson Bridge is 4,000 feet long and connects Cape Girardeau, Mo., with East Cape Girardeau, Ill. That is equal to the length of 13 football fields.

If you stacked soccer balls on top of each other, it would take 540 soccer balls to be as tall as the tallest point on the bridge. The highway is 60 feet from the water and the bridge towers that hold up the support cables is another 300 feet tall.

Currently, 11,000 cars go over the bridge each day. If you lined up 11,000 VW Bugs, they would stretch for more than 28 miles. This is almost the same as the distance between Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Biehle, Mo.

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