US 281 Bridge at the Brazos River – Santo TX


The US 281 Bridge at the Brazos River is a through truss bridge consisting of one three-span continuous unit 656 1/2 feet long and 12 steel I-beam approach spans, each 40 feet long, for an overall length of 1,138 feet.The three spans form a continuous Warren truss with top chords resembling the curve seen in suspension bridges The bridge provides a crossing over the Brazos River on U.S. Highway 281 in southeastern Palo Pinto County.

By September 1938, the Brazos River bridge project had been placed on the 1939 Regular Federal Aid Program. Texas Highway Department engineers designed the bridge. The department submitted the plans and specifications to the United States Bureau of Public Roads and received approval for the project on September 20. The appropriation amounted to $88,800 of federal funds to cover 50 percent of the project cost with the State of Texas funding the remainder. The Texas Highway Commission opened bids for the project on October 25, 1938. After reviewing the six bids submitted, the commission awarded the contract to Brown & Root, Inc. of Austin, which submitted the low bid of nearly $171,000. The Bethlehem Steel Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, fabricated the steel spans. Construction work on the project began on December 16, 1938 and was completed on September 23, 1939.

The Texas Department of Transportation built a new concrete beam bridge in 2016, on the east side of the 1939 bridge, for north bound traffic on U.S. 281. The 1939 bridge is being rehabilitated with a new deck, railing and paint and will be re-opened for south bound traffic in 2019. The new bridge is handing traffic in both directions until the 1939 bridge rehabilitation is finished.

Source notes

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form:
(, accessed September 28, 2018.

Project originally submitted by Larry Moore on September 28, 2018.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Brazos River
Santo, Texas 76472

Location notes: Coordinates: 32.641583, -98.100318

Coordinates: 32.64217773, -98.0997286

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