The Rainbow Bridge is a through truss bridge crossing the Neches River in Southeast Texas just upstream from Sabine Lake. It allows State Highway 87 and State Highway 73 to connect Port Arthur in Jefferson County on the southwest bank of the river with Bridge City in Orange County on the northeast bank.
Construction on the bridge began in 1936 under the guidance of the Texas State Highway Department. Due to concerns by the upstream city of Beaumont about the bridge posing a threat to ship navigation, the Rainbow Bridge was built with a 680 foot (210 m) main span. In addition, it has a vertical clearance of 177.0 feet (54 m), which was intended to allow what was at the time the tallest ship in the US Navy, the USS Patoka, passage under the bridge (however, the Patoka never did). However, the height of the bridge did allow the construction of jack up offshore drilling rigs at the Bethlehem Steel Beaumont Shipyard. With seventy-two (72) rigs built, the shipyard was one of the major sources of offshore rigs built in the United States.
The bridge was completed on September 8, 1938. The nearby town of Prairie View took on the name "Bridge City" in response. Initially named the Port Arthur-Orange Bridge, it received its current name in 1957. The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
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