The U.S. Route 66 Bridge over the Meramec River in Route 66 State Park was built in 1931. It has a unique Warren Truss support structure (one of four in Missouri) and is in great disrepair. The bridge decking was removed in 2010 to help preserve the support structure by taking the weight off the aging truss. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), had plans to demolish the remaining bridge structure if a viable redevelopment plan was not established by the end of 2016.
Thanks to a collaborative effort and financial gifts from donors, Landmarks Association and Philip and Judith Stupp, the bridge has been saved! A steering group was formed to undertake future fundraising efforts to preserve and explore options to renew this structure as part of the Meramec Greenway, the internationally popular and historic Route 66, and a vital connection in the State Park itself. Missouri State Parks now owns the bridge and MoDOT pledged their funds originally slated for demolition to the preservation plan.
The U.S. Route 66 Bridge is located the City of Eureka in St. Louis County. It is 1,008 feet long and connects two pieces of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Route 66 State Park.
Missouri State Parks
Missouri State Parks Foundation
Great Rivers Greenway
In early 2021, Missouri State Parks, Missouri State Parks Foundation and Great Rivers Greenway engaged a team of engineers to assess the bridge’s current conditions and develop a cost estimate and renderings for the plan to restore it for people walking and biking. The consulting team presented their estimate and renderings at the Route 66 State Park Annual Meeting in August 2021. The cost to restore and refresh the bridge is estimated to be $9 million. Project partners will be funding $6 million and the remaining $3 million will be funded through private donations and grants. The next steps include launching a fundraising campaign and to advance the concept designs into structural drawing and site plans.
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Meramec Greenway: Route 66 State Park Walking & Biking Bridge-Updates
ABOUT THIS PLACE
Did you know that this section of the Meramec Greenway will connect to regionally significant places such as the banks of the Meramec River, the historic Route 66, and Route 66 State Park? What stories do you know about this place? Share them at www.GreatRiversGreenway.org/ShareYourStory or by calling 314-932-4904.
All of the rain that falls in this area drains into the Meramec River and flows into the Mississippi River and out to the Gulf of Mexico. Our actions – like littering trash or picking it up – impact the water quality in our community and downstream. Trees and other native plants along the river help to filter out sediment in the water, reduce flood damage, prevent erosion, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. You can protect life in the waterways in our community and downstream by keeping pollution out of these watery places that many animals and plants call home. If you see litter on the ground, you can pick it up and put it in the correct trash or recycling bin before it gets into a waterway. You can plant a tree or rain garden that will help you in your effort to remove pollutants from our water. You can also prevent pollution released from vehicles by carpooling, walking, and bicycling more and encouraging your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same.
This section of the Meramec Greenway will follow the historic Route 66. With origins as a major trail for the ancestral and historic Osage people, Route 66 exposed millions of Americans to small towns across the country. Step back in time at the Route 66 State Park Visitor Center, a former inn and tavern that dates back to the 1930s. It was once a popular place for dining, drinking, dancing, and gambling along the original Route 66.
In the 1920s, this area along the banks of the Meramec River was a summer resort for St. Louisans called Times Beach. With the onset of the Great Depression and then World War II rationing, the resort became a low-income housing community. In the 1970s, the dirt roads in the community were repeatedly sprayed with waste oils to control the dust. This waste oil had been negligently contaminated with dangerous chemical waste. By 1985, all 2,000+ residents of Times Beach had been relocated so the area could be cleaned up. Soil sampling completed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 showed that the area is clean and no longer poses health risks to visitors or workers. The area is now Route 66 State Park.