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Navajo Bridge

Navajo Bridge is a historic bridge located on US 89A, which spans the Colorado River approximately 5 miles below Lee's Ferry. Up until the 1920s, it was necessary for wagons and automobiles to cross the Colorado River via an old ferry. Marble Canyon was chosen as the location for a new bridge. Construction was begun in June of 1927 and completed in January of 1929. Halfway through construction, the ferry sank and a decision was made not to replace the ferry. Until the bridge was complete, in order to cross to the other side of the canyon, which was only 800 ft. across the river, a detour of 800 miles became necessary.

The new bridge was 18 ft. wide and crosses the canyon 467 ft. above the Colorado River. An estimated 500 cubic yards of concrete, 2.4 million pounds of steel, and 82,000 pounds of steel reinforcement were used during construction. The bridge is 834 ft. long and cost $390,000 to build. At the time of its construction, it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world. It was a historic day when it opened, and the governors of three states gave speeches.

The bridge served the area well for 66 years, but eventually, the bridge came under close scrutiny. Navajo Bridge had not been engineered to carry the loads that modern traffic placed on the structure. Various proposals were made to change the historic structure, including widening the bridge. But due to the need to support larger loads and limitations on the existing bridge, is was finally determined that the best approach would be to construct an entirely new bridge. In May of 1993, construction on the new bridge was begun. Two years later in May 1995, traffic was diverted to the new bridge, and Navajo Bridge was closed to vehicles. The old bridge now serves as a pedestrian bridge, with stunning views of the Colorado River.

The new bridge cost $14,700,000 to build. (Quite a difference from the original $390,000 cost) It is 909 ft. long and is three feet higher than the old bridge, rising 470 ft. over the Colorado River. The new bridge is 44 ft. wide to accommodate large loads. 3.9 million pounds of steel, 1790 lbs. of concrete, and 434,000 lbs. of steel reinforcement were used in its construction.

Location: US 89A Between Bitter Springs and Jacob Lake in Northern Arizona.


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