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New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge
File:New River Gorge Bridge.jpg

38°4.1′N 81°5.0′W / 38.0683°N 81.0833°W / 38.0683; -81.0833Coordinates: 38°4.1′N 81°5.0′W / 38.0683°N 81.0833°W / 38.0683; -81.0833{{#coordinates:38|4.1|N|81|5.0|W||| |primary |name=

Carries Script error: No such module "Jct".
Crosses New River, Script error: No such module "Jct"., CSX Transportation
Locale Fayette County, West Virginia, 23x15px United States
Maintained by West Virginia Division of Highways
Design Arch
Total length Script error: No such module "convert".
Width Script error: No such module "convert"., 4 lanes with center divider
Longest span Script error: No such module "convert".
Clearance above Deck arch, unlimited clearance
Clearance below Script error: No such module "convert".
Opened October 22, 1977
Daily traffic 16,200 vehicles/day[1]
New River Gorge Bridge
NRHP Reference # 13000603[2]
Added to NRHP August 14, 2013[3]

The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge Script error: No such module "convert". long over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. With an arch Script error: No such module "convert". long, the New River Gorge Bridge was for many years the world's longest steel single-span arch bridge;[4][5] it is now the fourth longest. Part of U.S. Route 19, its construction marked the completion of Corridor L of the Appalachian Development Highway System. The bridge is crossed by an average of 16,200 motor vehicles per day.[1]

The roadway of the New River Gorge Bridge is Script error: No such module "convert". above the New River.[5] When it opened in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge was the highest vehicular bridge in the world. The New River Gorge Bridge remains one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world, and is currently the third highest in the United States. In 2005, the structure gained nationwide attention when the US Mint issued the West Virginia state quarter with the bridge depicted on one side. In 2013, the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Fayette Station Bridge over the New River, over Script error: No such module "convert". below the canyon rim.

Construction began on the bridge in June 1974, and completed on October 22, 1977. It was designed by the Michael Baker Company, under the direction of Chief Engineer Clarence V. Knudsen, and executed by U.S. Steel's American Bridge Division. Final cost of construction was $37 million (approximately $4 million over bid). It is made from COR-TEN steel. The use of COR-TEN in construction presented several challenges; notable among them was ensuring that the weld-points weathered at the same rate as the rest of the steel.[citation needed]

At the time, the bridge was the West Virginia Department of Highways’ largest project in its history, important both in terms of its overall cost, and that the federal government provided 70 percent of the funding. Construction gave a boost to the state and local economy, completion improved transportation.[6] The bridge cut the vehicle travel time from one side of the gorge to the other from about 45 minutes to 45 seconds.[5][7]

On August 14, 2013, the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3] Even though the bridge was not yet 50 years old, it was listed for its exceptional impact on local transportation and its engineering significance.[6]


File:New River Gorge Bridge by Donnie Nunley.jpg
View of the New River Gorge Bridge from the National Park Service Overlook

The New River Gorge Bridge is within the National Park Service's New River Gorge National River area, which protects this portion of the New River Gorge. At the northern end of the bridge, the Park Service operates a visitor center; it has scenic overlooks and a staircase that descends part of the way into the gorge.

A steel catwalk two feet (60 cm) wide runs the full length of the bridge underneath the roadway. Originally built to facilitate inspections, the catwalk is open for guided, handicapped-accessible quarter-mile "Bridge Walk" tours; visitors use safety rigging.[5][8][9]

Since its opening, the bridge has been the centerpiece of Fayette County's "Bridge Day", held the third Saturday of every October.[5] This festival includes demonstrations of rappelling, ascending, and BASE jumping.[10] Bungee jumping, however, has been banned during Bridge Day since 1993.

The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic during the festival. Prior to the September 11th terrorist attacks, two of the bridge's four lanes were open to traffic during the festivals. Since 2001, security concerns have caused the entire span to be closed to vehicles during these events.[citation needed]

The first person to jump off the New River Gorge Bridge was Burton Ervin, who lives in Cowen, West Virginia, and was a coal-mine foreman. Burton jumped on August 1, 1979, using a conventional North American Aerodynamics Mini Rig System with a 32-foot Lopo canopy. Four BASE jumpers have died at the bridge, three of these during Bridge Day festivals,[11][12][13] and one other killed while performing an illegal jump.[14]


See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b "WVDOH: 2006 Fayette County Traffic Counts" (PDF). West Virginia Division of Highways. 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-24. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 8/12/13 Through 8/16/13". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ George R. Carter, Jr. "Mind the Gap: Building the World's Longest Steel-Arch Bridge," American Heritage, April/May 2006.
  5. ^ a b c d e Green, Diana Kyle (October 2011). "Fayette County High". Wonderful West Virginia: 4–7. 
  6. ^ a b Erin M. Riebe (May 2013). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: New River Gorge Bridge" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-02-27. 
  7. ^ "Images of West Virginia". The Best of West Virginia. The Gallery. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  8. ^ "Bridge Walk". Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  9. ^ Green, Diana Kile (October 2011). "Bridge Walk Wows". Wonderful West Virginia: 8–9. 
  10. ^ "BASE" is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs).
  11. ^ Complete Bridge Day History, My West Virginia Home website
  12. ^ BASE Jumping Fatality List
  13. ^ "Californian Dies in Bridge Day Jump When Chute Fails to Open in Time". Huntington News. 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  14. ^ "Bridge Day Tragedy". Beckley Register-Herald. 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 

External links