Eads Bridge
A Confluence Attraction

Trailnet (314) 416-9930 for information about bicycle-pedestrian access

Participating Confluence Organizations
National Park Service
City of St. Louis

One-mile bridge crosses Mississippi River between downtown St. Louis and East St. Louis

(By car from Missouri) From downtown St. Louis, proceed east on Washington Avenue toward the Mississippi River. Washington leads directly to the Eads Bridge after crossing 4th Street. Parking is available for a fee at the adjacent Arch lot.

The Bridge was designed and constructed by the engineering genius, James B. Eads. It was undertaken as the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi at St. Louis in order to maintain the city’s economic competitiveness. At one mile, Eads was the longest bridge then in existence. In construction for seven years, the Bridge cost more than $10,000,000 by its dedication on July 4, 1874.

The Eads was the first major bridge to use steel and cantilevered construction, and its designer had to overcome a number of daunting problems. From his knowledge of the river’s shifting bottom and the force of its current, Eads knew the bridge piers would have to cut through up to 100 feet of sand to reach bedrock. The piers themselves would have to be unusually large and few, and the spans would have to be longer than any built thus far. The workmen themselves would be perilously involved in the deepest submarine work yet done. And through it all, river commerce could not be interrupted.

The Eads Bridge was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and was closed to railroad traffic in 1974. A massive, phased renovation project was initiated by the City of St. Louis in 1991. MetroLink service between Missouri and Illinois became available in 1993, and in 2003 the upper deck was once again opened to vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic (as it had been originally).

Current Features
Dedicated, protected bicycle-pedestrian lane on upper deck, open at all times, “shares the road” with motor vehicles
MetroLink transit service on lower deck
Historically influenced railings and lighting permit closing the bridge to traffic for special events
The bridge’s Missouri terminus is located a short distance from the 12-mile St. Louis Riverfront Trail (also described on this website)

Future Plans
When the final section of the MCT Confluence Trail along the Illinois levee is connected to the Eads Bridge, a 26-mile riverside trail loop will be created between the Eads and Old Chain of Rocks Bridges. This loop will be an important “backbone” for the network of urban trails and neighborhood connector trails now being developed in Missouri and Illinois.

Working in partnership, the City of St. Louis and Trailnet raised public and private funds to design and install historically influenced railings and pedestrian lighting, thus enhancing the bridge for daily use by bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as for periodic special events on the entire bridge. One of these, “Eats Bridge”, was held in conjunction with the Summer 2004 "Riversplash" event celebrating the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial festivities.

For more information about the Eads Bridge, see

For more information on nearby trails, see