County: Perry County, Missouri and Randolph County, Illinois
Road: Missouri Route 51, Illinois Route 151
Feature Crossed: Mississippi River
Other Location Information: Located at Chester, Illinois
Structure Number or County Bridge Number: Bridge No. L0135
Type: Continuous Warren through truss with polygonal top chord
Length: 2,827’ (from west to east: 7-60’ steel girder spans, 2 251’ warren deck spans, 2 670’ warren through truss spans, 2 250’ warren deck truss spans, 1 60’ steel girder span
Width: 22' curb-to-curb
Year Built: 1942, center spans rebuilt 1946
Builder: Massman Construction Company, Kansas City, MO; steel work American Bridge Company East St. Louis, Illinois
History of Modifications, Rehabilitations, etc.: Has been rehabilitated three times; scheduled for rehabilitation in 2018
For further information, interested parties may contact
Name: Karen Daniels, Sr. Historic Preservation Specialist
Organization: Missouri Department of Transportation
Address: MoDOT Design Division, Historic Preservation Section, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65101
The Chester Bridge was constructed by the City of Chester to connect Illinois and Missouri. In the late 1930s City governmental and business leaders formed a committee to oversee the effort, which would construct a toll bridge to connect to the developing highway systems in Illinois and Missouri. They worked under the slogan, “It shall be built.”
The City of Chester contracted with Sverdrup & Parcel, Consulting Engineers, of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1939 to design the bridge. Bonds were sold to finance the construction and the first contract for construction was awarded in July 1939. The Massman Construction Company of Kansas City, Missouri was awarded the contract to build the bridge. The steelwork was done by the American Bridge Company of East St. Louis, Illinois. The bridge was completed in May 1942, and work on highway approaches was completed over the summer of 1942. The bridge was dedicated on August 23, 1942.
During the evening of July 29, 1944 a strong windstorm, possibly a tornado, struck the bridge and the two main spans were destroyed. Reconstruction and repair of the bridge took two years to complete and the bridge was reopened on August 24, 1946.
The bridge operated as a toll bridge until December 31, 1988. The Departments of Transportation in Missouri and Illinois jointly own and maintain the bridge.
The bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under criteria C for local significance in engineering. The bridge is an excellent example of large scale bridge engineering required for major river crossings.
MoDOT’s Historic Preservation Section is now accepting proposals for the relocation and reuse of the bridge or its components until December 31, 2018. A proposal checklist is available MoDOT’s Free Bridges website (http://www.modot.org/freebridges/). Preservation covenants may accompany the bridge.