Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Avenue Bridge

The Congress Avenue Bridge, also known as the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, crosses over Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Prior to the completion of Longhorn Dam in 1960, the bridge crossed the Colorado River. The crossing is named after a part-time Austin resident and former Travis County commissioner after an Austin City Council meeting on November 16, 2006.


History

The Congress Avenue Bridge (Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge) crosses over Lady Bird Lake (Colorado River) in Austin, Texas. The crossing is named after a part-time Austin resident and former Travis County commissioner after an Austin City Council meeting on November 16, 2006. 2

The first bridge across the Colorado River along Congress Avenue was a pontoon structure built circa 1870. 2 The tolled crossing was replaced by a wooden structure at the cost of $80,000 in 1875.

A stronger iron bridge, funded by private interests, opened at the cost of $74,000 on January 22, 1884. 2 Designed and constructed by engineer C.Q. Horton, the crossing was purchased by the Travis County Road and Bridge Company and the City of Austin on June 18, 1886. The Travis County Road and Bridge Company refused maintenance on the crossing in 1891, leaving the county commissioners to negotiate an agreement with the city to assume complete control of the maintenance and operation of the bridge. The iron bridge was repaired in 1892 and 1901 and was repainted in 1902.

A new bridge was requested in 1908, and plans for a new open-spandrel concrete arch crossing came to fruition. 2 The replacement Congress Avenue structure opened at the cost of $209,000 on April 4, 1910. Sections of the old iron truss were reused in 1915 and 1922 to rebuild a bridge at Moore’s Crossing.

The Congress Avenue crossing was last rehabilitated in 1980. 1

Bat Colony

The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to 750,000 to 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats and is the world’s largest urban bat colony. 3 The bats reside beneath the road deck in gaps between the concrete component structures. The bats emerge from underneath the bridge at dusk to feed upon millions of mosquitoes and flies.

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Gallery


Information

  • State: Texas
  • Route:
  • Type: Open Spandrel Arch, Concrete Arch
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 946 feet
  • Main Span Length: 120 feet
  • Deck Width: 60 feet

Sources

  1. “Congress Avenue Bridge.” Bridgehunter.com. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
  2. “Ordnance No. 40.” City of Austin, Texas, 16 Nov. 2006. Web. 30 Dec. 2015. Article.
  3. “Congress Avenue Bridge.” Bat Conversation International. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.

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