The Highest Bridge in Missouri Will Make Your Head Spin

Written by Rebecca Mathews
Updated: September 11, 2023
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Key Points

  • The highest bridge in Missouri is 52 feet above the Missouri River, with a majestic pylon stretching 316 feet into the clouds.
  • The Bond Bridge was built to replace the aging Paseo Bridge and, at first, was dubbed the New Paseo Bridge.
  • On the Bond Bridge’s southbound side, there are three traffic lanes and four lanes on the northbound. The old Paseo Bridge only had two lanes in either direction.

Bridges are structures that span a gap across water or an obstacle, such as a gorge. Without them, we’d find getting around much harder (and time-consuming). The majority of us take bridges for granted because a bridge is just part of our modern world. Still, bridges are an incredible feat of engineering, and many of them are architecturally beautiful creations, too, such as the highest bridge in Missouri.

Let’s discover which Missouri bridge is the highest, its history, and what wildlife you’ll find nearby.

The Bond Bridge was named after the former Missouri governor and U.S. senator Christopher S. Bond.

Missouri’s Highest Bridge

Missouri’s highest bridge is the Christopher S. Bond Bridge in Kansas City. This modern bridge rises 52 feet above the water, and its iconic pylon extends a dizzying 316 feet into the skyline. It’s also called the new Paseo Bridge, or just Bond Bridge for short. This iconic bridge spans the Missouri River in Kansas City. Interstate 29/35 or U.S. 71 takes you over it.

Christopher,S,Bond,Bridge

This iconic bridge spans the Missouri River in Kansas City. Interstate 29/35 or U.S. 71 takes you over it.

©Stephanie A Sellers/Shutterstock.com

History of Christopher S. Bond Bridge

Officials announced on November 14, 2007, that they would build the highest bridge in Missouri to replace the aging Paseo Bridge that had outlived its lifespan. This new bridge was originally called the New Paseo Bridge before it was officially designated the Christopher S. Bond Bridge after the former Missouri governor and U.S. senator Christopher “Kit” Bond.

Construction began in April 2008, during which time the Paseo Bridge remained open, gradually shifting traffic across to the new bridge until it was complete. The city fully opened the bridge to traffic in 2010, several months ahead of its due date.  

What Type of Bridge Is It?

Bond Bridge is a dual-span cable-stayed bridge with a 75-year lifespan. It has a massive 260-foot tall pylon fixing it to the ground. It replaced the Paseo Suspension Bridge in 2010.

Missouri’s highest bridge increased road capacity, and locals breathed a sigh of relief because traffic often stood still on the Paseo Bridge. On Bond Bridge’s southbound side, there are three traffic lanes and four lanes on the northbound. It’s a significant increase on the old Paseo bridge that only had two lanes in either direction.

This bridge can increase to four lanes in each direction without extra widening. This forethought will help manage traffic flow in the future if levels increase or there’s a need for engineering work.

The Old Paseo Bridge 

Bond Bridge replaced the old Paseo Bridge in 2010 because Kansas City had outgrown it. Part of its metal base fractured in 2003, raising the deck by eight inches and blocking traffic.

Paseo Bridge was built in 1954 when traffic flow was a lot lighter. At that time, it was the longest self-anchoring bridge in the world. Workers improved it in 1984, then again in 2005. It then allowed 95,000 vehicles a day over the Missouri River. Officials say it was the busiest bridge in all of Missouri, but it closed its lanes on November 19, 2010. A construction crew demolished it in July 2011.

Years ago, the Paseo Bridge had a toll of 10 cents that went towards its upkeep, but there are no tolls on Bond Bridge today.

Modern Usage

The highest bridge in Missouri carries 100,000 vehicles per day over the Missouri River.

Parsons Corporation and its architect, Bradley Touchstone, designed it. The bridge’s architectural pylon and stays attract a lot of admiration, especially on special occasions when a series of cannon and LED lights light the tower pylon, cables, and bridge. Locals suggest taking a walk along Berkley Riverfront Park to admire its construction.

Christopher S. Bond Bridge’s 316-foot-tall pylon gave the Federal Aviation Authority pause for thought. They warned the pylon may interfere with flights from Kansas City Downtown Airport, which is just one mile from the bridge. As a result, they changed flights to allow extra room for planes, ensuring more than 700 feet of clearance.

The highest bridge in Missouri is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Wildlife Near Christopher S. Bond Bridge

One hundred thousand vehicles a day cross the bridge’s deck, but what’s beneath it?

The Missouri River is home to much aquatic wildlife.

Fish species include white sucker, river redhorse, bluegill, pike, gizzard shad, herring, and many catfish varieties. Amphibians, including toads and frogs, shelter on the riverbanks alongside turtles and small rodents, but this hasn’t always been the case. Past pollution levels decimated fish numbers so severely that government and conservation groups worked hard toward improving water quality. As a result, fish species have vastly improved there.

In the air above, numerous birds watch the activity below. Red-tailed hawks soar above the pylon on the lookout for roadkill or small voles and amphibians on the river bank. These opportunistic predatory birds are common throughout North America. American kestrels and mourning doves are plentiful there, too.

Temporary visitors to the highest bridge in Missouri are migratory swallows. It’s common to see these distinctive birds darting around the pylons of Bond Bridge, snacking on gnats and bugs attracted to the shelter there.

Migrating swallow species, including barn swallow with visible spots on their white forked tails, tree, cliff, bank swallows, and northern rough-wings. Human structures attract swallows, and some build their nests on the underside of Bond Bridge or within its iconic pylon stays.

What’s the Highest Bridge in the U.S.?

How does the highest bridge in Missouri compare to the highest bridge in all the States? It’s mere hop!

Out of the 600,000 bridges in the States, the Royal Gorge suspension bridge that spans the Arkansas River in Canon City, Colorado, is the highest. This stomach dropper is 955 feet high! Its towers are 150 high, and 4,100 steel cables comprise its base. This head-spinning bridge was built in 1929, almost 100 years ago, but officials reassuringly say 250 cables are replaced annually.

Hot on its heels is the 900-foot Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge that crosses the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada.

And the highest bridge in the world?

According to the Guinness World Records, it’s the Beipanjiang Bridge on the border of Guizhou and Yunnan Provinces, China. The deck is 1,854 feet above the Beipan River below. This vertiginous cable-stayed four-lane bridge was built between 2011 and 2016 and spans 4,400 feet.

Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado

Out of the 600,000 bridges in the States, the Royal Gorge suspension bridge that spans the Arkansas River in Canon City, Colorado, is the highest.

©Inbound Horizons/Shutterstock.com

The Highest Point in Missouri

If you’re looking for thrilling heights in Missouri, you might be interested to know the highest point in all of the State is 1,772 feet tall and deep in the Taum Sauk Mountains. It’s a prominent ridge in the St. Francois mountains that’s covered in forests, glades, and open spaces. A plaque and a five-flight lookout tower mark the spot if you’re up for a hike.

Numerous animals live in the Taum Sauk Mountain range. Bird life includes vultures, woodcocks, kingfishers, and wild turkeys, plus multitudes of butterflies such as Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopsis cecrops) and Missouri Woodland Swallowtail (Papilio joanae) flutter on the open plains. Be prepared for black bears, timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, and coyotes if you hike it.

The Longest Bridge in Missouri

The longest bridge in Missouri is the MacArthur Bridge, which opened in 1912. It’s a double-decker bridge measuring 18,261 feet long that unfortunately developed the name “Death’s Diving Board” because a number of cars hit the rails and fell. Today, it’s a railroad bridge.

The Highest Bridge in Missouri

So, we’ve discovered that the highest bridge in Missouri is the iconic cable-stayed Christopher S. Bond Bridge in Kansas City, which replaced the overworked Paseo suspension bridge in 2010. Its architectural pylon reaches 316 feet into the skyline, and the deck overhangs the river below by 52 feet.

Many species of fish, amphibians, and rodents live beneath it, and in the air above, hawks, kestrels, and swallows hunt for prey. The highest bridge in Missouri carries 100,000 vehicles a day and is futureproofed with potential extra lane space that can be built without closing the bridge to traffic. It’s quite a feat of modern engineering.

Where Is the Bond Bridge Located on a Map?

The Christopher S. Bond Bridge connects Kansas City, Missouri, with North Kansas City, Missouri. In this section of the metropolitan area, the border between Kansas and Missouri is determined by the Missouri River on the west side. Once the river turns east, however, it is entirely in Missouri.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Stephanie A Sellers/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Rebecca is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on plants and geography. Rebecca has been writing and researching the environment for over 10 years and holds a Master’s Degree from Reading University in Archaeology, which she earned in 2005. A resident of England’s south coast, Rebecca enjoys rehabilitating injured wildlife and visiting Greek islands to support the stray cat population.

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