The Union Street Railroad Bridge was designed in the early 20th century by Waddell & Harrington, for the Falls City & Western Railway. It was built across the Willamette River in 1912–13 to connect Salem to the West Willamette Valley. A lift section was included because the Willamette River was heavily used for shipping at the time the bridge was built. The lift span can no longer be opened and closed. With permission of the U.S. Coast Guard, which manages navigable waterways, the bridge has been permanently closed since 1980. Rail service had not been available since the 1990s
Soon after the completion, the Southern Pacific Railroad bought out the Salem, Falls City & Western Railway and incorporated the operation into its own system. The bridge was acquired by Union Pacific Railroad in 1996 and was purchased by the City of Salem for one dollar in 2004. The bridge was put on the National Register of Historic Places in January of 2006.
It was adapted for re-use as a crossing for pedestrians and bicycles over the Willamette River in 2009. The restoration architect and engineering firms responsible for the work were HDR Inc. and OBEC Consulting Engineers. The bridge is owned by the City of Salem. The project was made possible by cooperative financial support from the state and city, and when cost estimates exceeded the budget, by The Friends of Two Bridges, a local citizen action group.