Million Dollar Bridge

Market Street Bridge Construction
100 years ago

Spanning the River

The Market Street Bridge, also known as the Chief John Ross Bridge, spans the Tennessee River connecting Chattanooga’s downtown riverfront with the city’s North Shore commercial district. Constructed from 1914-1917, the steel and concrete bridge features a 310-foot double-leaf bascule lift steel span, which at the time of its construction was the largest of its kind in the world.

Led by Hamilton County Judge Will Cummings, the demand for a new bridge across the Tennessee River evolved in the early 1910s with increasing residential development in North Chattanooga.

Quarterly Testing

Million Dollar Bridge

Two crews worked tirelessly on either side of the river mixing concrete and delivering 20-gallon buckets of concrete via cable lines that were supported by two, 200-foot steel towers on the north and south bank of the river. The mechanism, designed by Ernest Holmes and Barney Strickland of Holmes and Strickland Pattern Work Company, significantly reduced labor time. In addition, the concrete mixing machines on both sides of the river were created especially for the Market Street Bridge project to produce high quality concrete work in an efficient manner, which was something unheard of at its time.

After repeated inspections, the bridge was officially dedicated and opened to the public on November 17, 1917. Three years after the start of construction, the Market Street Bridge was completed at a cost of $1.1 million. Officials celebrated the opening of the bridge with a parade and allowed the crowd to cross the bridge by vehicle and foot.
The first automobile to officially cross the Market Street Bridge was a Hudson Supersix.

Source information: National Register of Historic Places
Paul Archambault Southeast TN Development District

Thrown under the bus bridge

Several floods in 1915 and 1916 caused major delays on the bridge building and resulted in cost overruns. B.H.DAVIS who had been hired as the consulting engineer by the county, was blamed by the 'bridge commission' and let go.

Davis sued and, ultimately, in 1920, was vindicated and awarded damages.

Blame the Engineer