The 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.