Seminar - Building the Eads Bridge

Klaus Advanced Computing Building, Room 1456
Monday, January 7, 2019 - 13:45


Mr. Raymond Paul Giroux
Senior Estimate Manager
Kiewit Corporation

As St. Louis, Missouri grew in size in the mid nineteenth century, so too did the need for building a bridge over the mighty Mississippi River. Without a practicable engineering solution and stalled by the Civil War, the start of construction of the Eads Bridge (then called the St. Louis Bridge) was delayed until 1867.

James B. Eads, a self-taught engineer who had never designed or built a bridge proposed a radical steel arch design to span the river with spans over 500 feet in length and clearance of 88 feet above the river. Completed in 1874, the Eads plan required river piers be constructed using a new technique known as pneumatic caissons. These caissons pre-date those of the famous Brooklyn Bridge (1883). The superstructure was constructed from steel; a relatively new material for bridges using the cantilever erection method. Eads desire to use steel for a major bridge drove innovation in the manufacturing and quality control of steel. Eads and his engineering team had to develop many innovative solutions to overcome numerous obstacles during the course of construction.

The Eads Bridge is an important chapter in the history of bridge design and construction. This presentation will bring the story of the Eads Bridge to life, providing a unique learning opportunity.

Upon attending this seminar you will be able to understand;

  • The contributions of James Eads and his team to the civil engineering profession. • The challenges of building the Eads Bridge.
  • The means and methods used to build the Eads Bridge.
  • The importance of the Eads Bridge to growth and development of St. Louis.

Raymond “Paul” Giroux received his BS in Construction Engineering from Iowa State University in 1979. For the past four decades, he has been with Kiewit Corporation, working on a wide variety of heavy civil engineering mega projects throughout the country. Paul played a key role in notable projects such as the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore, several projects on the Big Dig in Boston including the new Zakim/Bunker Hill Bridge, the new San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge East Span, and many other projects.

Paul serves on the Iowa State University Civil Engineering Advisory Board, the Transportation Research Board, and several American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) committees. In 2008, he was the ASCE Chairman and featured speaker for Brooklyn Bridge 125th Celebration in New York and, in 2010, he presented the closing speech at the ASCE Hoover Dam 75th Anniversary Symposium in Las Vegas. In 2012, Paul served as the ASCE Chairman and principal lecturer for the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary. In 2014, Paul was a featured speaker at Global Engineering Conference to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal. Paul is the author of several bridge design and civil engineering history papers.