SABULA, Iowa — Illinois transportation officials are planning to give away — for free — a half-mile-long steel truss bridge built in 1932 that spans the Mississippi River between Sabula, Iowa, and Savanna, Ill. But there are conditions for those who want to take on a slice of history.

Before the Illinois Department of Transportation can demolish the bridge and build a replacement, it is required to offer the structure to anyone who promises to maintain it forever at its new location.

The bridge must be kept “in its historical significance in perpetuity” at a location approved by the Illinois DOT, said Mark Nardini, an acting environmental studies manager with the agency, according to report in The Dubuque Telegraph Herald on Friday.

The agency will approve how the bridge is moved, Nardini said. “We would also pay moving costs up to the cost of demolishing it.”

But it’s not clear who will take on the bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long, 20 feet wide and 73 feet tall at its highest point. The offer is open to “any qualifying governmental or nonprofit agency,” he said.

“We don’t expect a lot of takers,” Nardini said, chuckling. “In the past 22 years that I’ve worked here, we’ve never offered anything this size.”

The bridge must be moved within 30 days of its replacement opening, and the U.S. Coast Guard needs the giant concrete piers holding up the old bridge to be removed too.

A replacement bridge will be built 100 feet south of the existing bridge. Construction for the $70 million project is scheduled to begin in 2015.

EARLIER REPORT: SABULA,Iowa — For history buffs it might be the deal of a lifetime — an historic steel truss Mississippi River bridge free for the taking. There’s a catch though. The 1932 structure that connects Sabula, Iowa with Savanna, Ill., must be maintained at its new location forever.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says before it considers demolition, it is required by federal regulations to offer the bridge to the public for free because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports  the bridge is being replaced with a new one. Construction is expected to start in 2015.

The old bridge must be moved within 30 days of the opening of the new one.

Illinois DOT officials don’t expect many takers.

(5) comments

Savanna Boy
Savanna Boy

Woops! We did that in 79 or 80.

Savanna Boy
Savanna Boy

When I was 11 or 12 yrs old, my lil brother and I walked out to the middle of the river on the ice in January with about 2 or 3 inches of snow on the ice. On the downriver side of the bridge, wearing moonboots and parkas, we plowed out (with our feet and legs), 40 foot tall capital letters spelling F**K Y0U!. Anybody remeber that?


Hey Gluba, I smell a good deal.

Jack S

Just curious.......did semi's use this bridge ?

coffee cup
coffee cup

I'm glad it's getting replaced. That is one scary bridge.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.