Government Bridge opened 144 years ago


People in the Quad Cities use the Government Bridge to cross the Mississippi River every day. The bridge was first opened to the public this week back in 1872.  Here is a look at the man behind the bridge in this week’s edition of Rock Island Arsenal: Inside the Gates.

The man behind the bridge is Ralph Modjeski, aslo known for the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the Ben Franklin in Philadelphia and the Huey P. Long in New Orleans.
But director and producer of the documentary “Bridging Urban America,” Basia Myszynski tells Local 4 News there is something special about the Government Bridge here in the Quad Cities.
“The Government Bridge is the oldest.  So, you know, our fascination with this one is the solo design, it was his first solo design.”
While all of Modjeski’s bridges are different, there is on thing you will find in each and every design.
“The power of the bridge is something I see in every one of his bridges.  You just know it’s going to last so I do see that,” says Myszynski.
Standing the test of time is something that was very important to Modjeski.
Myszynski says, “He honestly believed that negligence would be the downfall of this country in terms of engineering.. and arrogance.”
But it is not just the strength and engineering you will find in Modjeski’s designs. You will also see his artistic side, something that may have come from his first love.
“First and foremost, he thought he was going to be a pianist.  He was a virtuoso pianist and that’s another dichotomy that I love in the film; it’s the art and the science together,” says Myszynski.
So while a trip across the Government Bridge may be just an ordinary drive, remember there was nothing ordinary about the man who built it.

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