Burlington Rail Bridge
The Burlington Bridge carries double tracked rail lines across the Mississippi River between Burlington, Iowa, and Gulf Port, Illinois. The bridge is currently owned by BNSF Railway as part of its Chicago to Denver mainline. It is somewhat controversial in that its swing-span only allows one barge to pass at a time and the US Coast Guard has declared it a navigational hazard. The bridge is planned to be replaced with a vertical lift bridge to double the width of the navigational channel once about $40 million is appropriated. As of 2005, around half of the estimate has been approved. Amtrak's California Zephyr crosses this bridge. The original bridge at this location was constructed in 1868. It was reconstructed in 1893 in its current form. On May 1, 2008, 5 fully loaded barges broke loose during a period of high water. One struck the bridge and became lodged under it. The bridge was closed until midday on May 2, when one track was opened after it was deemed safe. The barge was removed during the afternoon of May 3 and the other track was reopened that evening bringing the bridge back to full use to carry the dozens of trains that cross it daily. Not counting this incident, it has only ever been closed three times, 1965, 1993, and again in June, 2008, due to severe flooding. As of late 2009, BNSF Railway has begun work to replace the bridge. As of October 2010 a new span section can be seen directly south of the existing structure. Beginning December 21, 2010 trains have begun crossing the new lift span. The new lift span is not complete. The night of 1/29/11 explosions were set to remove the old center pier from the swing span. There was an error in the way the explosions were set that caused the lift span to lift in the air approximately three feet in the air. It caused bending and warping. When completed this will be only the fourth vertical-lift bridges along the Mississippi River. It will join the St. Paul Union Pacific Vertical-lift Rail Bridge in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Hastings Rail Bridge in Hastings, Minnesota and the Wabash Bridge in Hannibal, Missouri. It will be the only one that is double tracked.


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