Whether energetically rushing or taking a meandering course, the Missouri River is an impressive sight to behold. A source of life, food and recreation, the river is that much and more. As residents of river communities, the citizens of Omaha and Council Bluffs have taken advantage of the recreational, educational, cultural and economic opportunities the river offers. Businesses and entertainment venues have sprouted along its banks, drawing energy from the Mighty Missouri’s path.
Nine years ago, former Nebraska governor and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey had a vision for a pedestrian bridge across the Missouri River that would connect the communities of Omaha and Council Bluffs. His vision found support, and in 2000, the City of Omaha was awarded a federal grant towards the project.
The resulting Pedestrian Bridge is defined by twin spires reaching 200 feet into the sky, representing the connection between the cities of Council Bluffs and Omaha. The graceful curved design of the bridge – one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the United States – reflects the elegance of the water that rushes below. At night, the twin spires and graceful cable stays light up the Missouri River for miles.
The landmark showcases the trail access, wildlife and compatible economic development that is possible along the Missouri River. It enhances the Mighty Missouri and allows individuals near and far to come closer to its spectacular wonder. Walkers, bikers, joggers, birdwatchers and others can traverse the 2,700-foot span, which connects nearly 150 miles of trails in both Iowa and Nebraska.
The majority of the funding for the bridge came from the federal grant. The remaining funding was raised from foundations, corporations, groups and individuals.
The development of the Pedestrian Bridge is very much in keeping with Back To The River, Inc.’s mission of a vital riverfront, and the organization stepped forward to lead a community-wide fundraising effort for the project.