Bridge With A Past

The cantilever Snake River Bridge has had a few different names over the years because of its past. The Old Columbia River Bridge was originally constructed in 1927 at Vantage. The carbon steel bridge crossed the Columbia River to link Grant and Kittitas counties. At 1,636 feet, it was one of four Columbia River bridges built in the era of jazz music and bootlegger cars.

The construction of the Wanapam Dam in the early 1960s increased the Columbia River’s water level and made it necessary to build a higher, four-lane bridge for the route that became I-90. In 1963 the Washington State Department of Transportation deconstructed the bridge and placed it in storage. Standard trestle designs made bridges easily reusable, and therefore economical. It was because of this that the bridge’s design was so common.

In the late 1960s,the current of the Snake River slowed because of the Lower Monumental Dam. It became impractical for the small automobile ferry to remain the only way for cars to cross the river near Starbuck. In 1968 the old Vantage bridge was resurrected over the Snake River. In its new location the two-lane bridge at Lyons Ferry stretched to reach a length of 2,040 feet. This increase in span was made possible because of four prestressed beams made of concrete.

Today, the Snake River Bridge at Lyons Ferry stands as one of the oldest steel cantilever bridges in the state. It’s on the Washington State Department of Transportation Historic Bridge list, the National Register of Historic Places, and the Historic American Engineering Record at the Library of Congress, proving it is a bridge with its own past.