The historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge along Route 66 in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri, reopened to traffic Thursday — three months early — after much-needed repairs were completed.
The blog of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau has the details of the unannounced reopening:
Pulaski County Commissioner Gene Newkirk noted that the first vehicles to cross the bridge were all from out of state, and that the second group, several motorcycles, were international Route 66 enthusiasts. […]
One excited motorist even honked their horn in celebration as they crossed the bridge that had been closed to traffic for seven months.
Some of the signage that was removed during the bridge rehabilitation is now located at Pulaski County Visitors Center (137 St. Robert Boulevard, Suite A, Saint Robert) for Route 66 fans to see and photograph.
More photographs from Thursday:
For comparison, here’s what the bridge looked like before the repairs:
A ceremony marking the bridge’s reopening will be scheduled within the next week or so.
The early reopening is very good news for Devil’s Elbow residents, who see a lot of tourism traffic from Route 66ers and canoe users on the Big Piney River during the summer months.
A variety of funding was used for the $1.3 million bridge-rehabilitation project, including from the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and Pulaski County.
The truss bridge, built in 1923, is nearly 600 feet long. It sits near the Elbow Inn restaurant and bar, a popular hangout for Route 66ers, bikers and Fort Leonard Wood soldiers.
(Image of the Devil’s Elbow Bridge in 2010 by the Missouri Department of Tourism; all other photos courtesy of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau)