Also known as the Withington Ford Bridge, the Bend Bridge was constructed in 1917 by the St. Louis firm of Miller and Borcherding, and has been serving a major crossing of the Meramec River since that time. It is a Pratt truss sub-type of bridge known as a Pennsylvania through truss, its double spans notable in that they are technologically significant and well-preserved examples of the type. In the 1990s, the Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory identified the bridge as eligible for listing on National Register of Historic Places. At the time the inventory was conducted, Missouri had 17 similar road bridges with Pennsylvania trusses. Today, only three of these bridges continue to carry road traffic: the Bend Road Bridge, the Champ Clark Bridge at Louisiana, and the McKinley Bridge at St. Louis. The diminution of this type of bridge in Missouri mirrors the nationwide trend of replacing large truss bridges with modern concrete structures. Although approximately 250 Pennsylvania trusses are standing across the country, only 14 of these bridges have the same features as the Bend Road Bridge, and two of the 14 are likely to be demolished this year. Franklin County officials have pushed to replace the bridge with a modern span better able to handle the growing volume of traffic. Preliminary approval for federal bridge funding ($3.5 million) was given in April 2014. The county is currently acquiring right-of-way to build a replacement bridge in a new location that would eliminate the sharp curves along Bend Road at the current bridge. Construction of the replacement bridge is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016 with demolition of the old bridge soon after. At issue is not whether a new bridge is needed, but whether the old bridge must be demolished in the process. The Magi Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Pacific, would like to adapt the bridge for use by the new Pacific River Walk Trail (www.pacificriverwalktrail.org). When fully completed, the river walk trail will interconnect with the Ozark Trail to the south and the Great Rivers Greenway of St. Louis County to the east. The Meramec River has long represented an obstacle for extending the Ozark Trail to St. Louis, but the refurbished bridge would provide a cost effective answer.
Update: The Bend Road Bridge has been demolished.