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Project background

In 1994 the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and State Historic Preservation Office, hired FraserDesign to complete an inventory of Iowa’s state, county and city historic roadway bridges constructed prior to 1942. The Iowa DOT has hired the Louis Berger Group Inc. to expand the 1994 inventory to include bridges constructed between 1942 and 1970. The inventory is intended to be used as a planning tool for state and local agency officials as they perform bridge maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement projects. However, many members of the public are also interested in Iowa’s historic heritage and would like to learn more about our historic bridges.

Iowa currently has a total of 25,075 bridges, placing  it fifth among the states in the nation. If Iowa’s roadway bridges were laid end to end, they would stretch across the state and half way back. In 1994, approximately 9,000 bridges were looked at in 1994 for the historic inventory and about 10,000 are being considered in the present inventory.

The inventories include: 

  • A historical overview of bridge development and construction providing the context in which the bridges are evaluated. 
  • An inventory of several types of vehicular bridges including a description of their structural configuration. 
  • An evaluation of each structure’s National Register of Historic Places significance.
  • Results from the 2003 research by the Louis Berger Group Inc.  They set out to find each of the historic bridges recorded in 1994, photograph them, record their locations with global positioning system equipment and add information on their current status into a database.

Since the 1994 inventory, some of the bridges had been moved, burned or destroyed by floods or fire. The historic bridges that still stand in the state today are listed in this Web site.

The reader should be aware that the bridges listed represent the results of data collected in 2003. For a number of reasons, the status of any listed bridge may change. While the database is periodically updated, the information shown may not always be current.