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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Summer 2004 arrow Kansas: Replacement of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge, Atchison
Kansas: Replacement of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge, Atchison

Agency: Federal Highway Administration

In 1938, the Public Works Administration built a long-span steel truss bridge that spans the Missouri River at Atchison, Kansas. Today, the Federal Highway Administration may financially assist the State in replacing the two-lane, National Register-eligible bridge with a four-lane bridge to improve safety and traffic flow.

This case highlights the difficulties States often face as they try to maintain and improve their transportation infrastructure when important historic bridges are determined to be functionally obsolete.

Preservationists note that such structures are being replaced at an alarming rate across the country.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is considering providing financial assistance to the Kansas Department of Transportation to replace a 66-year old, two-lane bridge over the Missouri River at Atchison, Kansas. Under the plan, the old bridge would be replaced by a new four-lane structure to improve safety and accommodate projected increases in

Amelia Earthart Memorial Bridge, Atchison, Kansas



Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge, Atchison, Kansas
(photo courtesy of NTHP)



The historic long-span steel truss bridge is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent example of its kind constructed under the Public Works Administration.

In 1997, the crossing was named the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge to honor the famed aviator who was born in Atchison, Kansas, in a house overlooking the Missouri River. It also was listed recently by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) as one of America’s “11 Most Endangered Historic Places.”

In January 2004, NTHP requested the ACHP’s involvement in the Section 106 review process for this proposed project. NTHP was especially concerned that the removal of the historic truss bridge could influence the fate of several more steel truss bridges that FHWA is currently considering along the same stretch of the Missouri River.

In April 2004, the ACHP attended a Section 106 consultation meeting in Topeka, Kansas, and later sent a letter to the Kansas Division of FHWA on defining the purpose and need for the project.

The ACHP’s letter also strongly encouraged FHWA to include at least one alternative in an Environmental Impact Statement that focuses on rehabilitating the existing Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge and constructing a new, two-lane, companion bridge to accommodate increased traffic.

Because of the ACHP’s recommendations and the concerns of NTHP and another consulting party to the proposed project, the Atchison Preservation Alliance, FHWA is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement that will consider the proposed project’s historic preservation issues.

Staff contact: Carol Legard

Posted August 6, 2004

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