The Mark Morris Memorial Bridge, locally known as the North Bridge, carries Iowa 136/Illinois 136 across the Mississippi River, connecting Clinton, Iowa, and Fulton, Ill. It is jointly owned by the Iowa and Illinois departments of transportation. It was opened to traffic in January 1975.
The bridge is a three-span, cantilever through truss design, which has two traffic lanes and a 3-foot sidewalk – a total of 34 feet wide. The total length of the bridge is 3,011 feet. It was designed by Modjeski and Masters, one of the top bridge engineering firms in the world headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Mark Benton Morris
Mark Benton Morris was born Aug. 9, 1893, near Stockport, Iowa. He attended rural schools near Bentonsport, Iowa (1900 to 1908) and school in Bentonsport (1909). He graduated from high school at Keosauqua, Iowa, in 1914. He attended Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa, from 1914 to 1916 and 1919 and 1920; and received his bachelor of science in civil engineering degree from Iowa State College in 1921.
Morris worked for Van Buren County as a bridge form carpenter during the summers of 1914 and 1915; the Iowa State Highway Commission as a resident engineer on gravel road and concrete bridge and culvert construction at state institution roads from June 1916 to March 1917; Woodbury County, Iowa, as the first assistant county engineer from April 1917 to March 1918; St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company in St. Louis, Mo. from April 1918 to September 1918; Moriarity and Luse, consulting engineers in Sioux City, Iowa, from September 1918 through December 1918; and the Iowa State Highway Commission again beginning in June 1919 through February 1961. Following retirement, he served as a research consultant on special assignment for the Iowa State Highway Commission.
During his 42 years as an employee of the Iowa State Highway Commission, he held a number of engineering positions, retiring as the director of Highway Research. His tenure with the department involved the issuance of a number of reports and papers, and service to a number of professional associations.
In 1963, Morris received the Iowa Engineering Society's distinguished service award for "outstanding service..." on special assignment with the Iowa State Highway Commission.
He also received a merit award from the Iowa Good Roads Association. The citation on his award read, "... he has rendered significant public service to the people of the State of Iowa during the period of his employment by the Commission. His able, accurate, and statistical presentation of highway facts has been of great value to the Commission and Iowa legislatures."
Morris was a member of the City of Clinton Bridge Commission, representing the Iowa State Highway Commission, from 1945 until his death in 1972. He was instrumental in work leading up to construction of the Clinton bridge. Unfortunately, delays in the bridge's construction prevented Morris from seeing the bridge as it was opened in 1975. The City of Clinton Bridge Commission named the structure the Mark Morris Memorial Bridge in his honor.
History of construction of the Mark Morris Memorial Bridge
The predecessor to the Mark Morris Memorial Bridge was the Lyons-Fulton Bridge. The Lyons-Fulton Bridge was called different names over the years, including the Wagon Bridge, Lincoln Highway Bridge and U.S. 30 Bridge.
The Lyons-Fulton Bridge, a four-span, camelback truss design, had for many years served as an important part of the transcontinental highway system, carrying the Lincoln Highway (later numbered U.S. 30) over the Mississippi River. [Although the town of Lyons, Iowa, was annexed to Clinton in 1895, the north end of the city is still referred to as Lyons; hence the name Lyons-Fulton Bridge.] The bridge carried a great deal of east-west traffic between the city of Chicago and Omaha, as well as traffic from central Iowa to markets in Chicago.
The Lyons-Fulton Bridge was constructed in 1891 with a wooden deck. In 1933, the deck was replaced with a metal grate, which allowed snow to melt through. A grand opening celebration was held following its rehabilitation, which included a daring 19-year-old Cedar Rapids high-dive artist, Walter W. Simon. Simon dove from the 100-foot high span into the Mississippi River, paid $1 for each foot of his stunt.
In 1945, the City of Clinton Bridge Commission was organized for the purpose of securing the financing to build modern bridges to serve their community. The commission operated with the advice and financial aid of the Iowa State Highway Commission, Illinois Division of Highways and U.S. Bureau of Public Roads.
The first bridge the commission was responsible for constructing was the Gateway Bridge. Construction started in August 1954, and it was opened June 30, 1956. It replaced the Clinton High Bridge (constructed in 1892).
Then the commission planned a second bridge to replace the Lyons-Fulton Bridge and connect Fourteenth Avenue in Fulton and Nineteenth Avenue North in Clinton. The new bridge would be located ½-mile downstream or south of the Lyons-Fulton Bridge.
In 1954, a Report on Proposed New South Bridge of Clinton Bridge Commission was filed with the Iowa State Highway Commission. During that same year, a trust agreement was formed between the City of Clinton Bridge Commission and Northern Trust Company to develop a financing plan for the new bridge.
A report of traffic and revenue estimates for the second bridge was completed in 1954. In 1955, the Iowa State Highway Commission received a copy of the Study of Possibility of Financing Another New Mississippi Bridge at Clinton. Subsequent and similar studies were filed in 1957 and 1959. In 1959, a traffic origin and destination survey in Clinton was completed.
In 1959, an application for an advance of funds for planning the new bridge was made with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency. In 1961, a preliminary planning report for the bridge was completed.
A notable player in the Clinton area bridge activities was Fred White, formerly chief engineer of the Iowa State Highway Commission, who in the 1960s served as the consultant engineer for the City of Clinton Bridge Commission.
Construction of the second new bridge, which would later be named the Mark Morris Memorial Bridge, encountered financial difficulties associated with the bonding scheme developed to underwrite the project. The commission built the bridge's substructure, which was completed in 1971, but could not raise sufficient funds for constructing the remainder of the bridge. The Iowa State Highway Commission took over ownership of the bridge and completed construction of the superstructure. The bridge opened to traffic in early 1975.
- Weeks, John. IA-136 Lyons-Fulton Bridge, Clinton, IA. 2005. Retrieved May 23, 2006.
- The Mississippi River at Fulton & Albany, by Wayne Bastian, Daily Gazette, July 1, 1976
- Biography of Mark Benton Morris, Iowa State Highway Commission, Jan. 18, 1963
- Costello, Mary Charlotte Aubrey. Climbing the Mississippi River Bridge by Bridge, Volume One, from Louisiana to Minnesota
- Leonard, John W., Who's who in engineering, Volume 1. 1922.
- Landis, Leo, Iowa State University, Center for Transportation Research and Education. Building better roads: Iowa's contribution to highway engineering. 1997.
Papers, proceedings, reports by or involving Mark Morris
- State of Iowa Official Register: Volume 27. Iowa Secretary of State. 1917.
- Bulletin of the Iowa Engineering Experiment Station: Issues 51-64. 1918.
- Bulletin: Issues 53-60. Iowa Engineering Experiment Stations. 1919.
- Annual report. Iowa Highway Commission. 1922.
- Engineering and contracting: Volume 64. 1925.
- The Military engineer: Volume 22. Society of American Military Engineers. 1930.
- Contractors and engineers: Volume 23. 1931.
- Construction methods: Volume 14. 1932.
- Concrete: Volume 40. Harvey Whipple. 1932.
- Proceedings: Volume 29. American Concrete Institute. 1933.
- Proceedings/National Research Council. Highway Research Board. The Use of Paper for Curing Concrete Pavements by Mark Morris. 1933.
- Year book: Membership. American Society for Testing and Materials. 1935.
- An approach to county planning, Appanoose County. 1936.
- Traffic engineering: Volumes 7-9. Institute of Traffic Engineers. 1936.
- Year book: Membership. American Society for Testing and Materials. 1938.
- ACI directory. American Concrete Institute. 1940.
- United States code congressional service: Volume 78, Issue 2. 1945.
- State of Iowa Official Register: Volume 43. Iowa Secretary of State. 1949.
- Reports, including special papers: Volume 29. National Research Council. Highway Research Board. Committee on Roadside Development. 1950.
- Proceeding of the Annual Meeting: Volume 62. National Research Council. Highway Research Board. 1954.
- Engineering news-record: Volume 152. 1954.
- Drainage areas of Iowa streams: Issues 7-15. U.S. Geological Survey. Water Resources Division. 1957.
- University of Iowa studies in engineering: Issues 37-43. 1957.
- Proceedings of the annual meeting – Highway Research Board: Volume 37. 1958.
- Civil engineering: Volume 28. American Society of Civil Engineers. 1958.
- Journal of the Hydraulics Division: Volume 86. American Society of Civil Engineers. Hydraulics Division. 1960.
- Operations under the indemnity provisions of the Atomic Energy Act. United States Congress. Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Subcommittee on Research, Development and Radiation. 1961.
- News report – National Research Council: Issues 11-14. National Research Council. 1961.
- News report: Volumes 12-14; Volume 12. National Research Council. National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Engineering. 1962.
- Bulletin: Issue 339. National Research Council. Highway Research Board. 1962.
- Journal of the American Concrete Institute: Volume 59. American Concrete Institute. 1962.
- Highway research abstracts: Volume 32. National Research Council. Highway Research Board. 1962.
- Better roads: Volumes 33-34. 1963.
- Highway research news: Issues 1-15. National Research Council. Highway Research Board. 1963.
- Leaders in American science: Volume 5. 1963.
- Roads and road construction: A monthly record of road engineering. Volume 10.
- Public works: Volume 94. 1963.
- Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers: Volume 127, Part 1. American Society of Civil Engineers. 1963.
- Miscellaneous river and harbor bills-1964. Hearings. United States Congress. House. Public Words. 1964.
- Hearings: Volume 1. United States Congress. Senate Committee on Small Business. 1964.
- Highway research record: Issues 33-38. National Research Council. Highway Research Board. 1974.
- Building better roads: Iowa contribution to highway engineering. Leo Landis, Iowa State University. Center for Transportation Research and Education. 1997.