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1941 Lanes Bridge Renovations (Old California State Route 41)

I was debating what to do on a day off and finally decided to check out the old 1941 Lanes Bridge which used to carry California State Route 41.  The 1941 Lanes Bridge can be seen on the northbound CA 41 Freeway as it crosses the San Joaquin River.  Since the original bridge was completed in 1889 the Lanes Bridge has been a major highway crossing for traffic over the San Joaquin River.  There has been three bridges at the Lanes Bridge crossing, only the original is the only one no longer present.  I made my way north out of Fresno during rush hour crossing the San Joaquin River on the CA 41 freeway into Madera County.  When I arrived on the old alignment of CA 41 I was greeted by something I didn't expect, a Caltrans maintenance sign.


I knew the 1941 Lanes Bridge was under going renovations but I had no idea it was still under Caltrans Maintenance.  The 1941 Lanes Bridge had one lane shut down over the San Joaquin River and was undergoing deck repairs.





Which in a way is double edge sword, I'm not happy my photos weren't great but I'm glad that a historic bridge is being preserved.  The design of the 1941 Lanes Bridge is traditional Art Deco concrete design which was a common bridge design by the California Division of Highways prior to the mid-20th Century.  The Google Car actually took a really good image of the 1941 Lanes Bridge in full back in January this year.

1941 Lanes Bridge GSV Image

Look northward the full scale of the repairs by Caltrans are obvious, no wonder the project is slated to end in 2021.


As state previously the original Lanes Bridge was completed in 1889 and was a steel truss design.  The original Lanes Bridge was located about a mile up river north of the 1941 bridge roughly where Lanes Road ends today at the San Joaquin River.  The original Lanes Bridge was first called the Yosemite Bridge but soon became known as the Lanes Bridge due Lanes Station which was a general store in close proximity which opened in 1894.  In 1917 the original Lanes Bridge had a partial collapse but was quickly repaired.  By 1934 the original Lanes Bridge had become part of CA 41 but was considered obsolete even for the standards of the time.  The original 1934 alignment of CA 41 used modern Friant Road and Lanes Road to cross the San Joaquin River via the original Lanes Bridge.  The original Lanes Bridge was heavily damaged in a 1937 flood along the San Joaquin River but was once again repaired.  It wasn't until the summer of 1940 when an overloaded truck crashed through the road deck of that the use of the original Lanes Bridge ended.  CA 41 traffic was temporarily rerouted to Friant over the 1906 North Fort Bridge until the 1941 Lanes Bridge was opened. 

Fresnobeehive.com has a really good article about bridge crossings over the San Joaquin River.  The article includes various photos of the original Lanes Bridge and the 1941 replacement.

Lanes Bridge Spanned Decades

The 1935 Fresno County Map shows the location of the original Lanes Bridge at the San Joaquin River.

1935 California Division of Highways Fresno County Map

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