Location: AT

The New Bike-Friendy Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge

The new Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge was recently completed, carrying traffic across the Missouri River at Atchison.

The new structure features a four-lane concrete deck with wide shoulders and an elegant arched design. It spans approximately 2,500 feet, and replaces the previous bridge, which was built in 1938 and had a steel grid deck and two narrow lanes, and was definitely not friendly to bicyclists. I never rode over it myself, but others have described it to me as a terrifying experience that they did not want to repeat.

The new bridge cost about $59.4 million, with construction costs being roughly split between Kansas (KDOT) and Missouri (MoDOT).

I recently had a chance to ride over the new bridge, in both directions, and was very pleased with the new structure. It was a joy to ride over, with wide, bicycle-friendly shoulders and bicycle-friendly stormwater grates.

Here are a few photos:


This is looking eastbound, from Kansas to Missouri.


Apologies for the blur (and the trash from drivers), but this is one of the storm grates on the deck of the bridge. No chance of catching a wheel there!


In Missouri, US-59 highway has an excellent wide shoulder, and a rumble strip on the fog line.


Here’s a look at the old bridge. Doesn’t look so scary with no traffic, but imagine 18-wheelers bearing down on you from fore and aft … not a pleasant experience…

This old bridge is apparently scheduled for demolition in the near future. It was originally scheduled to come down this Spring (and work was started), but there have been delays. So if you want to see this historic structure, which was “hailed as an engineering marvel” in its time, this might be your last opportunity.

If you’d like to learn more, the Atchison County Historical Society has a great article on the history of the “The Mo-Kan Free Bridge” in it’s December 2012 newsletter.


This is the approach to the bridge, westbound from Missouri, with the old bridge on the right.


And here’s a closer look at the new bridge and deck, headed west.


This is the view coming off the bridge, headed into downtown Atchison. Sadly, the shoulder disappears past this intersection, hopefully something KDOT will remedy at some point…

By the way, I believe that’s a Western Meadowlark, the state bird of Kansas, flashing across the scene. How’s that for a welcome back to Kansas!


And finally, here’s a look at the three bridges crossing the Missouri River at Atchison. The one in the foreground is the railroad bridge (damaged by flooding in 2011 and currently not used). The one in the middle is the old Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge, and the final one is the new Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge.

In this photo, I’m on the short paved path at Atchison’s Riverfront Park, which features a Lewis & Clark Pavilion, a Veterans Memorial, and a nice little park with outdoor exercise stations, as well as a water feature that can be ridden through, which is very refreshing on a hot summer day.

Kudos to KDOT and MoDOT for doing such fine work on the new Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge. This is now an excellent route to cross the Missouri River, and a welcome addition to the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail!

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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