It’s only a bridge … but

The Norbert F. Beckey bridge is the only bridge over the Mississippi that has LED lights …

It’s located in Muscatine, Iowa – on a bend of the river, below the Quad-Cities.

It’s named after my Dad … and here’s why …

“The original, privately-owned Muscatine wooden high bridge opened in
May, 1891. After a section collapsed in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower
signed H.R. 11010, establishing the Muscatine Bridge Commission (MBC).
The MBC acquired the High Bridge in 1958 for $883,845.

On May 3, 1963, Norbert F. Beckey was appointed to the Bridge Commission
by the United States Secretary of Commerce. He later served as the MBC
Chairman. Through the tireless efforts of  Beckey and the Bridge Commission,
the Iowa Highway Commission assumed the responsibility of the High Bridge on
July 1, 1970, with the condition that a new bridge be constructed.

However, a change in Iowa law was needed before the Commission could use
toll revenue to build a new bridge. While lobbying Iowa Legislators, Beckey and
other Commissioners continued to develop plans for the new river crossing. In
addition to studying various street sites for the new bridge, the Commission
even investigated a tunnel, which was also projected to be used as a bomb
shelter. The current location was eventually accepted because of cost and
traffic control reasons. Toll revenue was approved for bridge construction in
1966, following passage of the Iowa Interstate Bridge Act. A necessary
correction delayed the Bill’s implementation until 1967, which allowed
the Muscatine Bridge to be the first construct in Iowa under the new legislation.

Ground-breaking on the replacement bridge was held on October 21, 1970
and the new bridge, which cost $5.2 million to construct, was opened on
December 8, 1972. It was rededicated and named after Beckey on
September 15, 1980. Beckey (1921-1981) was the last Chairman of the MBC.

The Norbert F. Beckey Bridge is a steel-truss- through-deck bridge type
with a total length of 3018 feet and a width of 32 feet. It is 65 feet above the
water. It is located at River Mile 455.90.”

A new memorial was recently dedicated to the old High Bridge and the
Norbert F. Beckey Bridge –

“Mark Twain might have seen his most beautiful sunsets in Muscatine, but
modern residents and visitors to this old river town now have their own light
show to enjoy.

Leader Muscatine, a civic improvement and leadership program, initiated a
project in 2005 that culminated three years later with the installation of 43
light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures being attached to the Norbert F. Beckey

The system is believed to be the first of it’s kind to be installed on a bridge
over the Mississippi river. The computer controlled lights are capable of
generating 16.7 million color combinations.

Musco Lighting contributed $250,000 for the light fixtures with another
$100,000 received from a Regional Enhancement Fund Grant from the Iowa
Department of Transportation. Stanley Consultants assisted with the project
and Muscatine Power & Water agree to maintain the fixtures.”

Although I no longer live in Muscatine, I visit quite often. It will always be
my hometown and the city that my father loved.


4 responses to “It’s only a bridge … but

  1. Pam Martin Gay

    I had no idea! Hadn’t seen the lights either, but we can fix that in July. Mary – you should be so proud. One of the highlights of the riverfront. Did he know the lights were to be added? It kind of reminds me of the story about the President of Motorola in the 1980s. He admitted to his shareholders that he was greatly humbled when the sales of Motorola Pagers went through the roof when they introduced them in neon green, orange and pink. Love ya MBK… Pam

  2. Sister Mary,
    You are a blessed credit to the memory of our mother and father; Norbert & Judy Beckey
    Love you,

  3. Betty Cleffman Hager

    Mary, just Googled your dad’s bridge and found this post. Love it. This bridge, along with your father’s role in creating it, is a wonderful symbol of our hometown.

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