How Many Bridges Across The Mississippi River In Missouri


Missouri is home to many sites worthy of exploration, and its landscape of rolling hills and endearing rivers is among its defining features. Of the many delights Missouri has to offer, the prominent Mississippi River is arguably its most distinctive feature, providing an ever-changing and rapidly evolving ecosystem for the entire region. As one of the most densely populated regions in the United States, the number of bridges traversing the Mississippi River within the state of Missouri has steadily increased in both quantity and scope over time, offering enhanced structural and practical utility for travelers, commuters, and cultural figures alike.


The Mississippi River has been a prominent part of life along its banks for centuries. For centuries, the indigenous population of the region used small ferries to cross the river with relative ease to travel between towns, as well as navigate their way upriver. The first large-scale bridge across the river, the Eads Bridge, opened in St. Louis in 1876, offering a revolutionary new way to cross the large body of water. A larger railway bridge opened a few years later in Alton, but it was not until the early twentieth century that a growing number of public highways connecting various parts of the state of Missouri began to emerge.

Modern Day Bridges

Currently, there are fourteen permanent bridges across the Mississippi River within Missouri. Four of these bridges are located in St. Louis: the Eads Bridge, the Poplar Street Bridge, the Martin Luther King Bridge, and the Jefferson Barracks Bridge. The notable Gateway Arch Bridge, located across the river from downtown St. Louis, is the most iconic of all bridges in the state. Additionally, the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in Cape Girardeau, Missouri is an especially well-known and important bridge along the Mississippi River. The I-270 Chain of Rocks Bridge, situated between St. Louis and Granite City, provides access to many suburban neighborhoods located along the Illinois side of the river. Moreover, a growing number of more modern-style bridges are being planned and constructed to meet the increased demand for bridges across the Mississippi River within the state.


The bridges across the Mississippi River in Missouri provide both physical and psychological benefits to the lives of citizens who rely on its highways to travel within and between neighboring states along the Midwest. From a practical perspective, the convenience of traversing the river at any time of day or night is augmented significantly by the presence of bridges. Likewise, from an emotional point of view, the mighty Mississippi River essentially becomes a part of the consciousness for countless Missourians, who gain a certain sense of belonging to the region by crossing its visceral river.

Pros and Cons

The use of existing bridges across the Mississippi River within Missouri comes with both positive and negative implications. On the plus side, they provide well-lit, reliable paths for travelers in addition to enabling much-needed economic and social activity between the states on either side of the river. Furthermore, due to the method and scope of the bridges, they are often designed and managed to provide pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists with a safe, pleasant, and efficient crossing of the river. On the negative side, their presence also significantly increases waterway pollution in the form of oils, grease, debris, and emission from motor vehicles. In some places, foreign substances like these can add trace metals to the water, leading to increased problems with aquatic life, water quality, and air pollution.

Environmental Impact

As the use of bridges across the Mississippi River within the state of Missouri has increased, so have the environmental impact of these large-scale infrastructure projects. While bridges have revolutionized the way in which waterway transportation has been managed over the years, they have come with an unforeseen cost. Bridge-building projects can have an adverse effect on ecosystems, both in the direct disturbance of local habitats, and in the emission of pollutants directly into the waterway, reducing aquatic life and increasing waterway erosion and flooding. Additionally, road traffic between states can also bring about an increase in air and noise pollution.

Economic Viability

In addition to the environmental impacts of building bridges across the Mississippi River within the state of Missouri, there are also economic considerations that must be taken into account. As large-scale infrastructure projects, bridge-building endeavors can be a costly endeavor, and considerations must be made as to their economic viability. In addition to material costs and labor expenses, there are also inherent risks associated with bridge projects; delays in construction, safety hazards, and increased regulations can have a significant effect on the profitability of a bridge-building project, and may lead to a diminished return on investment.

Technological Development

The technology involved in bridge-building projects across the Mississippi River has evolved greatly over time, resulting in stronger and more durable structures over time. Recent advances in both the number and scope of bridge-building materials have improved the ability of engineers to design increasingly sturdy and robust bridge structures able to withstand the rigors of daily transit. In addition to the increased structural integrity of many of these bridges, newer technologies also allow for improved energy savings due to the decreased weight of some of the interior materials used in construction.

Design Features

Various design features can be found on bridges across the Mississippi River within the state of Missouri, aimed at improving both their practical and aesthetic elements. Many of these design flourishes can help to transfer travelers’ experiences when crossing the river, and provide a sense of comfort and security whilst traversing the waterway. Design features such as rolling barriers, illuminated handrails and anti-slip surfaces are all common elements found within many of the bridges, and help to provide an extra sense of security for travelers crossing the river. Likewise, certain bridges like the Eads Bridge have become notable for their purely aesthetic appeal, which can speak to the engineering mastery of bridge-builders over the centuries.

Future Trends

As the modern infrastructure of the Midwest continues to develop, the increased number of bridges across the Mississippi River in Missouri is expected to continue to rise. With cities like St. Louis and Cape Girardeau becoming increasingly populated, and the tourism industry in the region continuing to grow, there is an increasing demand for improved transportation access across the Mississippi River, as evidenced by the various projects currently in the works. As technologies continue to improve, and bridge-building regulations and safety measures become more stringent, the future of bridges across the river looks to continue progressing towards improved utility and usability for travelers and commuters alike.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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