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ASB Vertical Lift Bridge -- Kansas City MO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 39° 06.912 W 094° 34.764
15S E 363455 N 4330748
Quick Description: The ultra cool and deeply historic Armour Swift & Burlington (ASB)vertical lift through-truss bridge with a telescoping rail deck spans the Missouri River in Kansas City MO. This bridge is an ASCE civil engineering landmark.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 3/29/2013 7:53:15 AM
Waymark Code: WMGPPH
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 8

Long Description:
Kansas City's unique and historic Armour, Swift, & Burlington Bridge (usually abbreviated ASB) is owned by the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railway Company's modern-day conglomerate, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) RR. It is still in use for rail traffic today.

In 1986, the ABS Bridge's auto deck was removed when the new Heart of America Bridge opened a few yards away.

The Library of Congress has a TON of documents and old photos of the ASB bridge. Major infrastructure and engineering gearheads and geeks can get lost exploring there for HOURS (trust us on that).

From the Library of Congress website some COOL info and alomst 100 historic photos of this bridge (these photos are unrestricted public domain photos): (visit link)

“Significance: The A.S.B. bridge is the only vertical lift span of its type ever built with the railroad portion telescoping into the truss of the vehicular roadway so as not to interfere with vehicular traffic.” [end]

From the ASCE website: (visit link)

Kansas City MO

Work began in 1887 on the high-level truss "Winner Bridge" crossing the Missouri River at Kansas City. The piers were completed in 1890, but for financial reasons the project was suspended. John Alexander Low Waddell, renowned civil engineer, prepared an alternate design for a lift bridge in 1895, which would ultimately be built as the Armour-Swift-Burlington Bridge.

The Armour-Swift-Burlington encompassed many new innovations, primarily to take advantage of advances in materials and construction practices, like using riveted steel. It was the first bridge in Kansas City to provide separate rights-of-way for pedestrians, wagons, electric railways, freight trains, and motor traffic. It helped the city maintain its role as a railroad hub, permitted the railroads to expand their service, and opened up North Kansas City to development." [end]

From Wikipedia: (visit link)

"The Armour-Swift-Burlington (ASB) Bridge, also known as the North Kansas City Bridge, is a rail crossing over the Missouri River in Kansas City, Missouri that formerly also handled car traffic.

The piers were built in 1890. However, later that year, lack of funding prevented the bridge from being built. In 1909, John Alexander Low Waddell designed the current bridge and construction started. The bridge is one of two of this type that had car traffic on Route 9 on the upper level, and rail traffic on the lower level. The lower deck could be raised to permit riverboats to pass without interrupting car traffic on top. This design allowed the hangers from the lower deck to go through the truss members of the upper deck.

It was built by a combination of Armour Packing Company, Swift & Company, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.

In 1987 the Heart of America Bridge bridge opened to the east to replace the vehicular portion.

In 1996 the remaining part of the ASB was designated as a national landmark in civil engineering. The bridge is now owned by the BNSF Railway. The ASB has a 428-foot main span, and makes it the ninth longest vertical lift draw bridge in the United States. It is also a tourist attraction, as many people visit it each year. This is also one of two of this type ever built.


1890: Nine stone masonry piers built, J.A.L. Waddell did not agree with piers, funding ceased and the piers would sit unused until 1909.

1909: The companies of Armour Packing House, Swift and Company, and Chicago Burlington & Quincy railroad put in funds to build bridge. Piers shaved to ten feet above high water mark, J.A.L. Waddell created a new design, work begins.

December 28, 1911: Bridge opened to traffic, two lanes of automobile on upper level, one track of railroad on lower.

January 1913: Electric interurban cars begin use of streetcar rails on upper deck.

May 2, 1927: South approach span damaged in fire, replaced later that month.

August 1927: Bridge taken over by Missouri State Highway Department and tolls removed. Bridge floor replaced.

1932: Steel girder span over Second Street replaced.

1948: Bridge deck replaced, repairs and new lights added. Streetcar rails removed, and opened to four lanes of traffic.

1949: Collars placed around river piers to prevent rust.

1950: Bridge cleaned and repainted.

1951: Bridge survives 1951 flood.

1952: North approach widened.

1966: North approach widened and resurfaced.

1967: Bridge deck repaired.

1981-1982: Repair of girder lines on downstream side of railroad deck.

1987: Heart of America Bridge opened to the east, upper auto deck closed to all traffic.

1988-1989: Upper deck removed, and bridge given to Burlington Northern railroad.

1996: Bridge added as a national landmark in civil engineering for being only two of that type ever built." [end]

Still more information about this cool bridge comes from a press release by the Taliaferro & Brown engineering firm that recently (2010) completed a pedestrian bypass under the bridge: (visit link)

January 2010
Collaboration and Connection
Building on the ASB Bridge Legacy

Originally designed in 1909 by civil engineer John Alexander Low Waddell as an ingenious way to accommodate rail, auto, streetcar, wagon, and pedestrian traffic, the Armour-Swift-Burlington (ASB) Bridge is one of only two, vertical-lift, through-truss bridges in the world. Unique because of its lift span and configuration, Waddell's design includes a lower railroad deck constructed as low as possible over the Missouri River, and an upper deck for auto traffic. To accommodate riverboats, the lower deck could be raised without disturbing the flow of auto traffic. In addition, streetcar rails for electric interurban cars were in place on the upper deck from 1913 to 1948.

Building on Waddell's engineering legacy, Taliaferro & Browne is proud to have been an integral part of the Kansas City Port Authority's recent ASB Underpass project. By the end of next month, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to get up close to both the Missouri River and the historic ASB bridge thanks to this project.

The history of the ASB Bridge is one of collaboration and connection. The original design and construction was funded by a collaboration of the Armour Packing Company, Swift and Company, and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad to connect residents of Willard E. Winner's Northland development to Kansas City's Westport Landing. With the opening of the ASB Bridge on December 28, 1911, the incorporation of the Town of North Kansas City on November 4, 1912, and the addition of streetcar lines across the bridge in January 1913, this connection became reality for all area residents and launched the northern growth of today's Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

Nearly 75 years later, another collaboration - that of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Department and the Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) Railroad - resulted in a transition of the ASB Bridge to rail-only traffic and the building of a new auto bridge to the east - the Heart of America Bridge. For the BNSF railroad, ASB remains a vital connection across the Missouri River.

This summer, construction began on another vital connection - both from a transportation and an historical perspective - for area residents. The ASB Underpass connects the Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park with the Riverfront West/River Market Area. Cyclists and pedestrians will enjoy a meandering, safe trail constructed directly into the riverbank that affords ways to experience the evolving riverfront ecosystem and access over 10 miles of scenic and recreational opportunities. Thanks to the collaboration of the Port Authority of Kansas City, the City of Kansas City, Ameristar Casino, BNIM Architects, and Taliaferro & Browne - civil / structural engineering, surveying, and landscape architecture, this $3 million project will continue the connection between KC residents, the Missouri River, and the historic ASB Bridge." [end]
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dbrockhouse visited ASB Vertical Lift Bridge -- Kansas City MO 1/17/2014 dbrockhouse visited it
MeanderingMonkeys visited ASB Vertical Lift Bridge -- Kansas City MO 4/25/2013 MeanderingMonkeys visited it
Benchmark Blasterz visited ASB Vertical Lift Bridge -- Kansas City MO 3/12/2013 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

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