Highway 89 closed 25 miles south of Page
A road collapse south of Page has closed US-89 until further notice. US-89 is closed northbound at US-89A. In Page, US 89 is closed at the junction with State Route 98. Traffic is being detoured around closure utilizing SR-98 & US-160. US-89A is open. More »
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Those traveling across the country on Highway 89A between Bitter Springs and Jacob Lake AZ arrive at two bridges similar in appearance spanning the Colorado River. These two bridges, one historic and one new, represent one of only seven land crossings of the Colorado River for 750 miles (1207 km).
The Historic Bridge
In the 1870’s, pioneers from Utah began to expand their settlements into northern Arizona. Nearly 600 miles (965 km) of deep canyons along the Colorado River stood in their way. One of the only places a wagon could reach the river from both north and south was at the mouth of Glen Canyon. Since the area was accessible and was a natural corridor between Utah and Arizona, a ferry was established there in 1873.
So, for the next several months, no direct route existed between Utah and Arizona. People had to travel 800 miles (1287km) around the canyon to reach the other side of the river.
It was an historic day when, on January 12, 1929, the bridge was opened to traffic. At the time, it was the highest steel arch bridge in the world and made traveling between Utah and Arizona much easier. No longer did travelers have to contend with the moods of the Colorado River at Lees Ferry.
The dedication of the bridge took place June 14-15, 1929. For such an isolated spot, it was an astounding event. Nearly 7,000 people in 1,217 automobiles arrived for the celebration. Speeches were given by the governors of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and by the President of the Mormon Church. Bands, choral groups, and Native American dancers were also a part of the festivities. It was reported that airplanes flew under the bridge and as Prohibition was in effect, the bridge was christened with a bottle of ginger ale. The bridge was known as the Grand Canyon Bridge for five years following the dedication. In 1934, after great debate in the Arizona legislature, the official name was changed to Navajo Bridge.
The New Bridge
Navajo Bridge served the area well for 66 years. However, as automobiles and trucks became larger, wider, and heavier, the need for a stronger, wider bridge became evident. The historic bridge was only 18 feet (5.5m) wide and had a 40 ton (36 metric tons) limit. Approaches to the bridge on each side were dangerous with limited sight of oncoming traffic. Pedestrian safety was also a factor. Although pedestrians were not allowed on the bridge, the temptation was too great for many. Over a 13 year period, 72 accidents occurred on or while approaching the bridge; eight were fatal.
Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center
After completion of the new bridge, the old rest area on the west side of the bridge was remodeled and expanded to include an interpretive center. On the Navajo Nation (east) side of the bridge, there is an area for Native American craft vendors. The Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center opened for business in April of 1997 and was dedicated on June 17, 1997. More...
Bridge Facts and Figures
Did You Know?
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