Clinton's New Gateway Bridge - 1956

From: The Clinton Herald, Monday, July 2, 1956, P. 3
Transcribed by a Clinton County IaGenWeb volunteer.

9,000 Cars Move Bumper – to – Bumper Over Gateway Bridge Saturday.

Vehicles Jam City Streets.

Volume Believed Heaviest Ever.

Traffic was reported running smoothly on the new Gateway bridge today after motorists “crowded” bumper to bumper on the $6,800,000 span for about six hours following the historic ribbon-cutting ceremonies Saturday afternoon. City traffic in the vicinity of the two-mile structure and extending as far west as Clinton high school was believed to be the heaviest in Clinton history as citizens crossed the new span at a snail’s pace during the toll-free period from about 4 p. m. to midnight Saturday night.

Officials estimated that around 9,000 vehicles crossed the new bridge during the eight-hour period on Saturday. They also pointed out that persons in more than 3,000 vehicles paid toll and crossed the north end Lyons – Fulton bridge during that same time.

Numerous State Highway Patrolmen and 11 or 12 city policemen steered the enormous volume of traffic in the vicinity of the new bridge and kept the situation under control from shortly after 4 p. m. until the pace began to slacken around 10 o’clock Saturday night.

“It was unbelievable,” said one of the Clinton police who guided the motorists. “You simply had to be out in it to appreciate how heavy it was. It was about twice as heavy as the tie-up during Centennial time.”

Police pointed out that much of the difficulty stemmed from the fact that motorists from both directions were merely crossing the bridge and then making U-turns to go right back across.
Police said that cars were lined up as far out as Clinton high school waiting to get across the bridge.

Despite the bumper – to – bumper situation no mishap was reported to Clinton police as a result of the flow of traffic to and from the bridge.

The enormous stream of cars began to traverse the new span shortly after Fred White, former chief engineer for the Iowa Highway commission cut the red, white and blue ribbon at the end of the dedication ceremonies.

The historic grand opening for the gigantic structure of steel and concrete was held at the 8th Ave. and 3rd St. intersection under clear blue skies and a blazing sun.

Police estimated that between 3,500 and 4,000 persons jammed the intersection and its vicinity to hear the ceremonies which included principal talks by Gov. Leo Hoegh and Illinois Lt. Gov. John W. Chapman.

Gov. Hoegh said the new span was appropriately named Gateway, in as much as the new structure is truly a gateway to growth, expansion, development and prosperity. He termed the bridge a “masterpiece in engineering” and expressed Iowa’s gratitude to the commission and the community for its role in the project.

Lt. Gov. Chapman declared the completion of the new bridge will have a considerable impact on the improvement of the economic and traffic pattern of Iowa and Illinois. He said such a structure is a summing up of the rapid and radical change in the physical environment that Iowa and Illinois have undergone in little more than 100 years.

Congr. Henry O. Talle of the Second Iowa District, applying a Daniel Webster to the new span, said, “This is something worthy to be remembered.”

The shining new bridge provided an impressive background for the numerous dignitaries who approached in cars from the Illinois side of the river for the 3 p. m. ceremonies.

The dignitaries in the cars included Gov. Hoegh, Lt. Gov. Chapman, Senators B. B. Hickenlooper and Thomas Martin, Congr. Henry Talle and Illinois Rep. Leo Allen.

During the colorful ceremony, dads held their tots on their shoulders. Some folds sat under parasols to beat the heat. Soda pop and ice cream were for sale on the sidewalks.

B. M. Jacobsen was the master of ceremonies. Rev. Jerry Walcott, Lyons Methodist pastor, gave the invocation and Msgr. E. F. Jackson, St. Irenaeus parish pastor, the benediction. The Fulton, Ill., high school band, resplendent in red uniforms, played at the program.

The opening was a particularly memorable afternoon for 90-year-old William J. Sikkema of Fulton, Ill., who in the company of his 80-year-old brother Jake, walked the new bridge just as he did the old Clinton & Illinois span the day it was opened and the day it went out of business.

The inauguration was indeed memorable, too, for 80-year-old Clarence Sweet of Garden Plain, Ill., and his brother Sam, 83, of Fulton, Ill., who chugged across the new Gateway bridge shortly after its opening Saturday in a 1914 car. The ride was particularly significant to them because as children they had been the first person to cross the old Clinton & Illinois bridge, which the new span replaces.

That opening of the new Gateway Bridge marks the beginning of a new era of progress and prosperity for Clinton and the surrounding area was the theme of an address given Saturday night by Albert Wedeking, president of the American Bridge Tunnel and Turnpike association at a banquet held in the Clinton Country club.

A hospitality hour preceded the banquet.

Wedeking explained that he had been attending bridge opening ceremonies for 24 years but never had he encountered as many friendly people as he did while in Clinton.

He emphasized that the new bridge was built at no cost to the taxpayers. “The people who use the bridge will pay for it,” he declared, “and that is the way to get improvements which are needed now.”

He paid tribute to those men who had a part in the planning and building of the Gateway Bridge, particularly members of the City of Clinton Bridge commission. At the close of his address he presented gifts to the following commissioners: Mark N. Morris of Clinton, chairman; J. J. Burke of Clinton, vice-chairman; Fred G. Hansen of Clinton, secretary and treasurer; E. H. Cyaas of Clinton, Llewellyn Fay of Clinton, Mark B. Morris of Ames, representing the Iowa State Highway commission and Merton Memler of Dixon, Ill., representing the Illinois division of highways.

B. M. Jacobsen was toastmaster at the banquet.

He read a letter from Vice-President Richard Nixon which expressed the writer’s regret at not being able to attend the opening and congratulating the city on completion of the bridge.
A tribute was paid three former members of the commission now deceased, Milton Peaco, Neil Saunders, and Dr. T. B. Charlton. Short talks were given by Mayor A. H. Dall, J. C. Wolfe, Clinton Chamber of Commerce president, Frank Masters of the firm of Modjeski and Masters, U. S. Senator Thomas E. Martin, and U. S. Rep. Henry O. Talle.

Introduced to the audience were: Fred R. White and Hugo Surman, former bridge commissioners; Everett A. Streit, who designed the brochure distributed at the banquet; W. E. Ellwanger, bridge manager; P. B. Holleran and Prentice Shaw of the firm of Holleran and Holleran; C. W. Hansen and Harold Echoff of the firm of Modjeski and Masters; Emory Loomis and John Butter of the Iowa State Highway commission, Al Cheramy and Art Machande of the Clinton Labor Congress; Major F. W. Ray of the U. S. Corps of Engineers; Harry Pape, Don R. Allison, William Greene, John W. Carlsen and Harry Burlow, former mayors of Clinton; and representatives of the A. C. Allyn Co., Chapman and Cutler, Northern Trust Co., and Dubuque Centennial, Davenport and Muscatine Bridge commissions.

Music during the dinner hour was furnished by the Clinton high school string ensemble under the direction of Mrs. Roger Stoskopf.