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Missouri officials unveil Bicentennial Bridge

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of visitors enjoyed a new view of the capital city Monday after crossing the newly-opened Bicentennial Bridge connecting the statehouse to the Missouri River. 

The Bicentennial Bridge connects to a 30-acre parkland north of the Union Pacific Railroad, expanding Capitol tourism and providing access to the new park on a strip of land along the Missouri River known as Adrian’s Island. The entrance to the bridge features a Gold Star Memorial honoring veterans and their families, and educational panels honoring the project’s many sponsors are set to be added along its length. 

Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin joined Gov. Mike Parson and other officials before a large crowd to officially open the bridge on the Capitol grounds on a sunny Monday afternoon, touting the long-gestating project as the perfect finale for the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s statehood.

“The time has come to reconnect the Capitol with our riverfront, and what a perfect place for it,” Tergin said. “We’re really excited that we get to celebrate this in our state’s bicentennial year. What a legacy this is for the state of Missouri.”

The nearly $5 million project has been in the works for decades. The largest project approved by the Bicentennial Commission, the bridge has been sponsored by the DeLong family, which put $3.5 million behind the project over the years; Union Pacific, which announced its $200,000 sponsorship earlier this year; and several local and state benefactors. 

“We get to be part of a bicentennial celebration and this Bicentennial Bridge that a lot of people had the forethought to make this a little better for all of us,” Parson said. “We can recognize the families, but also the thousands of people who will get to enjoy this here in Jeff City, right here at the state Capitol, and to be part of our Missouri history.”

Gov. Mike Parson joined Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin to unveil the Bicentennial Bridge on Dec. 20, 2021. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/CAMERON GERBER)

While Missourians can now cross the bridge onto the land beyond the railroad tracks, Tergin noted the project was far from complete. The commission is still taking donations to complete the trails and place park equipment on the island, along with other amenities planned for the entrance to the bridge. 

The Deborah Cooper Park, located along the Missouri River, includes walking and biking trails and will feature assets taken from the statehouse during its renovation, including stone columns from the top of the building. A large outdoor chess board created by the local Scout troops and the World Chess Hall of Fame is set to be a centerpiece of the park but has not yet been placed. 

The park commemorates Cooper, a local bank employee who pushed for a development on the site in the 1980s. Cooper died in 1986, and her family started the Deborah Cooper Foundation in her memory to raise money for the project. The deed for the land required the project to be named after her. 

Tergin, Parson, and other officials broke ground on the project last August, a year to the day ahead of Missouri’s bicentennial date. 

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