Ocean to Ocean Bridge – Connecting a Cross-Country Highway

Yuma, Arizona.

A truss bridge that spans the Colorado River at Yuma is the final highway bridge to connect a road between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Construction completed in 1915, and in 1926, the highway became part of U.S. Route 80, the primary east-west transcontinental highway in the depression era. For a time, the bridge’s deteriorated state resulted in it becoming a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, but after a reconstruction project in 2002, it was restored to vehicle use.

The bridge’s total length is 444 ft (135 m) and the longest of the two spans is 336 ft (102 m). Built-in nine months at a cost of $73,800, the bridge was the first bridge to span the lower Colorado River. Today it serves traffic on Penitentiary Avenue as modern bridges now carry traffic east and west on nearby I-8. The bridge has an interesting history due to it’s being a major border crossing between Arizona and California. It became a stopping point to block refugees from entering California in attempts to escape the 1930’s dust bowl states. There is an excellent article on Wikipedia that describes the bridge’s construction and history here.

This view of this bridge can be seen, along with a descriptive plaque, when you tour the Yuma Arizona Territorial Prison State Historic Park. In most browsers, you can click on a link to enlarge the image for a better view.

In recent weeks, I’ve been following a blog called The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles here. I discovered the site published by Jason D. Smith when he reblogged a couple of my posts that focused on bridges that I visited and documented on my journeys. That has inspired me to revisit some of the places I’ve traveled to focus specifically on historic bridges. From time to time, you’ll see one of these posts featuring a historic bridge.

John Steiner


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