The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge is named for the eight-term Southeast Missouri congressman who helped lead efforts to secure funding for its construction. Congressman Emerson worked hard to secure Federal Highway Administration money to proceed with the construction and passed away in June 1996, shortly before the contract to build the bridge was awarded.
Congressman Emerson’s House and Senate colleagues unanimously passed legislation three days after his death to name the new bridge in his honor. President Clinton later signed the legislation.
The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge serves this area as an important part of the transportation system and as a beautiful landmark. It is a deserving tribute that the bridge be named in honor of someone who worked so hard for it to be built.
Location: The approach to the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge connecting Cape Girardeau, Mo., with East Cape Girardeau, Ill., is located approximately three blocks south of the previous structure in Missouri. In Illinois, the approach is very near the previous bridge site. Design: The structure is supported by a total of 15 piers including the land abutments in Missouri and Illinois. • Main Span: The first four piers from the Missouri side support most of the structure. This main span area crosses the navigational channel of the river. Suspension cables provide the support for the main span. A bridge of this type is known as a cable-stay structure.
• Illinois Approach: Piers 5-15 make up the Illinois approach span. They are positioned from where the cable-stay section ends and connect with the Illinois shore. These 10 piers are much closer together than those that comprise the cable-stay section. Width: At approximately 100-feet wide, the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge is nearly five times as wide as the previous structure. Four lanes, two going east and two going west, along with 10-foot roadway shoulders, are included. The prior bridge had two lanes and no shoulder. Length: The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge is 3,956 feet long. This is similar to the length of 13 football fields. The cable-stay portion totals 2,086 feet, whereas the Illinois approach span measures 1,870 feet. The prior bridge was 3,413 feet long. Height: The driving lanes of the bridge deck are located 60 feet above the river. The suspension cables are attached to towers above the deck that rise to 300 feet above the river. Lighting: The bridge lighting includes 140 lights to welcome motorists to the region. The Clark Bridge in Alton, Ill., has similar decorative lighting. The lights were made possible through private fundraising. Each of the 32 large lights and 108 small lights on the bridge were sponsored by an organization or individual.
Mississippi River Bridge
Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge
Emerson Bridge Deck Panels
Emerson Bridge Final Girder
Emerson Bridge Concrete Pour
U.S. Rep. Emerson's Visit to the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge