The Guy F. Atkinson Company began construction of a bridge at Covington Point in January 1951.The site became a point of contention between bridge builders and dam builders soon afterward. The Corps of Engineers began talking of a need for modification of the bridge design to accommodate the dam it was preparing to build nearby. The Corps released a sketch of the proposed dam with a portion of the bridgeís northern approach built atop the spillway structure but scrapped that proposal and required relocation of the entire bridge when its studies concluded that there was a high probability that spillway discharges would undermine the spanís piers. Work on the crossing came to a halt on February 4, 1952 at the time all piers were in place and the structure was 29% complete.
The firm of Atkison/Ostrander submitted a low bid of $2,478,480 and began construction at the new location in December 1952. The country was in the midst a Korean War related steel shortage and acquiring enough material to fabricate an entirely new structure was out of the question. The builders faced a difficult task in adapting the old bridge to the new site. The original plans called for the span to be lower at the Washington end than at the Oregon end, the opposite of the orientation required at the new site where piers four and five which support a 576 foot cantilever portion of the structure over the shipping lane differ by 33 feet in height. The alignment problem was solved by reversing the existing construction plans. The 1080 foot truss built for Covington Point was too short to bridge the river at the new location. The fabricator Judson/Murphy/Pacific had to scour the country for enough steel to complete an additional 280 foot continuous truss that would link the north anchor arm with the Washington shore and a 124 foot plate girder approach on the Oregon end of the bridge. The two dozen piers and abutments were built in shallow water or on exposed rock a task easily accomplished with the use of coffer dams. Piers four and five are an integral part of The Dalles Dam forming the guide walls for the entrance to the damís navigation lock. Erection of the steel superstructure began April 9th and was completed on November 3, 1953.