What if they built a bridge and nobody ever drove on it?

Here’s a weird one – a bridge along US 50 in southwestern Illinois that has an unused twin!

Here it is, up close and personal.

Abandoned, never used US 50 bridge

There are actually four such bridges along this 21-mile stretch of US 50 between Carlyle and Lebanon. The State of Illinois built them in about 1973 anticipating a four-lane divided highway that never materialized. Overpasses along this stretch are wide enough to accommodate a four-lane highway too.

I’ve heard that there were plans for I-64 to follow the US 50 corridor, and, later, plans for a US 50 expressway from St. Louis to Vincennes, neither of which came to be. I’ve also heard that dreams for a US 50 expressway still persist in southern Illinois. Not only is much of the infrastructure in place along this stretch, but much of an older alignment of US 50 lies unused next to the current alignment in south-central and southeastern Illinois.

Abandoned, never used US 50 bridge

When the time comes to build the road to this bridge, it looks like all they have to do here is lay some asphalt and put a bar across that railing!

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4 responses to “What if they built a bridge and nobody ever drove on it?”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    1973, that’s impressive. I remember we used to have this big arching span that was supposed to be part of the 403 around the time I got my license. Intended to carry the 403 over the proposed 407, it was a huge bridge to nowhere for about five years. Ultimately, though, they did build the 407 and plug the bridge into the 403 and I can barely remember what that curve used to be like at ground level. But I don’t know of anything to match 36 years of anticipation. :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’ve heard of other unfinished highways that were eventually finished, but never one left for 36 years!

  2. kurt Avatar

    Geesh, I didn’t think that I had been away from your site that long…..you’ve been busy. Great stuff, I particularly like the other side of the Vincennes bridge….I should have wandered over there.

    1. Jim Avatar

      You can click one of the subscribe links (near the top) and never be out of sync with Down the Road, you know!

      I didn’t know about the Lincoln memorial, or that Lincoln once passed that way, until we went over there. It was very cool.

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