A large portion of Illinois was formerly covered with prairie grass, giving rise to the nickname “Prairie State” for the state. Nonetheless, it is sometimes referred to as the Corn State because it is a major producer of corn. Lincoln lived in Lincoln State for thirty-one years of his life, hence still another appellation, the Lincoln State.
However, Illinois hasn’t officially adopted the nickname “Bridge State.” Still, the term might be as appropriate as the other designations given the 26,873 bridges that are located inside its boundaries. Illinois is home to 87,110 miles of rivers and streams, and the state is bordered by 880 miles of rivers. Thus, it should come as no surprise that bridges can be seen all around the state.
We examine the longest bridge in this state in this post. Fifteen are longer than three thousand feet. Continue reading to learn about Illinois’s top 15 longest bridges.
15. Interstate 74 Bridge
Constructed in 1935, the 3,372-foot I-74 Bridge spans the Mississippi River. It was initially intended to handle 48,000 vehicle crossings per day, but that number swiftly rose to 80,000 on average. The Illinois Department of Transportation built a new bridge due to the infrastructure’s decline. In 2021, they dedicated it formally.
14. Quincy Memorial Bridge
The Quincy Memorial Bridge, which was initially constructed in 1930, is still used to connect Missouri and Qunicy, Illinois via U.S. Highway 24. In Illinois, this bridge is the fourteenth longest. Its 3,510 feet of physically sound width facilitates regular Mississippi River crossings by vehicles.
13. Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge
The congressman from southeast Missouri who oversaw the financial efforts for the bridge is honored by the name of this 3,953-foot span. Mr. Emerson put in a lot of effort to secure project funding from the Federal Highway Administration. Unfortunately, though, he passed away in 1996, one month before the FHWA awarded the bridge contract.
12. Thebes Bridge
The Thebes Bridge spans 3,959 feet and has five cantilevered bridge spans. The bridge that links Ilmo, Missouri, with Thebes, Illinois, is owned by the South Illinois and Missouri Bridge Company.
11. Rock Island Centennial Bridge
The 4,447-foot-long Rocks Island Centennial Bridge was inaugurated in 1940. The Master Sargeant Stanley W. Talbot Memorial Bridge is its official name, however most people just call it the Centennial Bridge.
10. Mark Twain Memorial Bridge
The 1936-built, identically named first bridge was destroyed in 2000. Situated immediately north of the previous Mark Twain Memorial Bridge, the replacement bridge opened in 2000. It connects Missouri and Illinois and is 4,491 feet long, carrying traffic on both U.S. Highway 36 and Interstate 72.
9. Quincy Bayview Bridge
The Quincy Bayview Bridge connects Quincy, Missouri, to Quincy, Illinois, spanning 4,507 feet. In addition to being a functional link between the two communities, the bridge has a beautiful appearance. This is because of the computer-controlled lights, which create breathtaking nightly light displays with 16 distinct color sequences.
8. The Mile-Long Bridge
Although the bridge was originally erected in 1958, it underwent reconstruction between 2019 and 2023. The Mile-Long Bridge spans two railroad lines, an intermodal complex, the Des Plaines River, and the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal. It is situated in a Chicago suburb. At 4,608 feet, it is barely a mile long.
7. Clark Bridge
Super Bridge, a NOVA documentary, highlighted this 4,620-foot bridge. The current bridge, which was built in 1994 to replace the 1928 original and is also named for the explorer William Clark, crosses the Mississippi River between Alton, Illinois, and West Alton, Missouri.
6. McClugage Bridge
Work on the original bridge started in 1939. But since World War II broke out, it wasn’t completed until 1948. Just north of the current bridge, the bridge gained a second three-lane span in 1982. A construction-related tragedy claimed the lives of three ironworkers in 2000 during the rehabilitation of the 4,745-foot bridge.
5. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
US Route 66 originally crossed this bridge, which opened to traffic in 1929. The Mississippi River is crossed by the 5,353-foot expanse between Chouteau Island, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. In 2006, it was added to the list of historic places on the National Register.
4. Eads Bridge
The 6,442-foot arch bridge spans the gap between East St. Louis, IL, and St. Louis, MO. Although work on the bridge started in 1867, it wasn’t until 1874 that it was made publicly accessible. After being closed to traffic from 1991 to 2004 for renovation, Eads Bridge is presently used to cross the Mississippi for both automobile and pedestrian traffic. It is currently a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
3. Des Plaines River Valley Bridge
This bridge is 6,864 feet, or 1.3 miles long. It carries I-355 traffic over a stretch of post-tensioned concrete girders that crosses the Des Plaines River, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. It’s interesting to note that the height of the bridge was purposefully constructed to protect the endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly from passing vehicles below it.
2. Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge
The Lincoln Memorial Bridge was first constructed in 1987 and has four lanes to transport I-39 traffic across the Illinois River, Illinois Route 351, and the Illinois and Michigan Canal. At its longest span, the 7,122-foot bridge is 619.9 feet long. It links Oglesby, IL and LaSalle.
1. MacArthur Bridge
Although some consider the MacArthur Bridge to be in Missouri, it actually connects East St. Louis, Illinois, with St. Louis. The bridge was inaugurated in 1917 and bears the name General Douglas MacArthur. But in 1981, the upper auto deck closed. In 2022, the Terminal Railroad began a refurbishment project. The length of this massive building is 18,261 feet.