Wednesday, June 7, 2017

BNSF/CB&Q/B&MR Bridge over Missouri River at Plattsmouth, NE

(1903 Bridge Hunter, 2013 Bridge Hunter, no Historic Bridges, Satellite)

The Burlington and Missouri River (B&MR), which was acquired by the CB&Q in 1872, built the original bridge in 1870. The 1903 bridge was rebuilt in 1976. A photo in a Facebook posting brought these bridges to my attention. The posting explains that the new bridge handles loaded trains and the old one handles empties. The 1903 Bridge Hunter posting has a lot of photos of the new one as well as of the old one since they are next to each other.

I like this view because the man standing on the girder part on the Nebraska side shows the scale of the bridge. The length of the through-truss span over the navigation channel for both bridges is 400 feet.
Post Card View
Many of the pictures capture the differences in bridge construction techniques. Both use a macho through truss to span the navigation channel, The truss for the new bridge is deeper while the cord members are smaller, probably because modern steel is stronger. The new bridge does not use any V-lattice. For the other spans over the river and the flood plain, the old one uses deck trusses whereas the new one uses four steel girders. That photo also shows that the old bridge uses cut-stone piers while the new one uses reinforced concrete. (Reinforced concrete was still being developed as a construction material in the early 1900s.) In that photo we can also see that pin connected tie bars are still used for some of the bottom cords even though the bridge was rebuilt in 1976. This photo shows that for the short spans on Nebraska's river bluff side. the old bridge uses steel girders whereas the new one uses concrete girders.

Samuel Brodersen posted
An empty coal train from Council Bluffs, IA races into the setting sun on approach to the Missouri River bridge in Plattsmouth, NE. Taken on 12/8/18.
Erich Houchens Train is crossing the new Missouri River bridge that BNSF built a few years ago. The old original CB&Q bridge is on the left. All coal, grain and Amtrak trains must use the new bridge as the old bridge is now restricted to general freight and empties. The train pictured is on the main with the siding (about nine thousand feet) on the old bridge. For some strange reason BNSF didn't bother to connect up CP Plattsmouth and CP Pacific Jct. which really would have helped through put on the Creston subdivision. This would have made total sense as loads would have gone up No.2 track Oreapolis to Balfour over the new bridge and empties would have run No.3 track Balfour to Oreapolis over the old bridge. Remembering my Nebraska division Omaha desk days ….
Josh Job They have been building an overpass just to the east of east river that gets rid of one of the major x'ings there. The rumor is that BNSF is paying for it so that they can extend the 2 mains from West P. Jct to East River or at least over halfway, to allow more trains to be parked and moved off the Napier and Council Bluffs subs as well as allowing more room at the bottom of Balfour hill.
osh Job Being a conductor that regularly traverses this area, I hope they do it. I also hope that they find a way to extend from West River to CP Plattsmouth. It'll be difficult since it's in the side of a huge hill with houses and building nearby, but if the railroad wants to accomplish something, they'll find a way.
Erich Houchens Josh Job Looking at Google Maps I see it's just over 3000 feet between South River and Plattsmouth. It looks like the Main Street underpass is wide enough for two tracks. Yes I does look like some dirt work is needed on the curve just east of Plattsmouth. Closing this gap as well as the North River to Pacific Jct. gap would give you a 20 mile stretch of two main track between Oreapolis and Balfour. This would have been very welcome during my Omaha Desk days as I frequently had west bounds sitting at PJ waits for slow coal trains grinding up hill. Of course with the decline in the number of coal fired power plants I wonder what the traffic levels are these days on the Creston subdivision.




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