Can you imagine a time when you would travel on a highway and the road simply ended when you reached the state border. That actually happened in the early days of transportation. With commodities and travelers needing to move farther, it didn’t take long to realize that connecting one state to another, creating a regional and eventually national and international transportation system, was critical to enhancing just about every aspect of our lives.
While many of us take these state-to-state connections for granted, a recent joint project by the Iowa DOT and Nebraska Department of Roads reminds us that cooperation and “meeting in the middle” remains extremely valuable, especially when you’re talking about a bridge over the Missouri River.
The new U.S. 34 bridge connecting Mills County, Iowa, and Sarpy County, Nebraska, was dedicated Oct. 22 with much fanfare. A ceremony was held and included Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad, Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino III, Nebraska Department of Roads Director Larry Peters, and Glenwood State Bank President Larry Winum. Also in attendance and giving brief remarks were Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry, Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, and a representative of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
During the ceremony, Gov. Branstad said, “This new bridge brings with it much more than just an easy connection for the citizens of Mills and Sarpy counties. The bridge and adjoining roadway will significantly increase the traffic capacity to this region. I’m told that the new bridge is estimated to carry 2,000 vehicles each day. More traffic, means more people through your local communities to support existing businesses. The project also houses around 3,000 acres of buildable land along the bridge corridor. Space to build, coupled with the ability for trucks to easily move freight along the four-lane roadway, will undoubtedly attract a variety of new business to the area. The U.S. 34 project has opened the door for significant economic growth and development, shaping a new landscape for this region.”
In her remarks, Lt. Gov. Reynolds said, “New connections, like this one, don’t happen every day. While several bridges over the Missouri River have been enhanced or replaced over the years, the U.S. 34 bridge is the first newly constructed traffic connection across the river in the region since the Bellevue toll bridge was built in 1950. That’s 64 years. Mills and Sarpy counties have changed significantly in those 64 years. Today we celebrate a new bridge and roadway that supports those changes and prepares the local communities for the future.”
Iowa DOT Director Trombino commented to the crowd on the long-standing, cooperative nature of the project. He said, “The U.S. 34 project spans well before my time at the department. It began with the dreams of many of you who knew the power a new connection across the Missouri River could bring to the area. Hard work and determination by those in the communities on both sides of the river are at the cornerstone of this project’s success.”
Following the ceremony and traditional ribbon-cutting, the dignitaries hopped into open-topped jeeps for the inaugural ride across the bridge that will quickly become a vital regional transportation link.
To see more images from the bridge construction project and bridge opening celebration, visit our Flickr site at