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New River Gorge Bridge

For years, crossing the New River Gorge meant long detours, and carefully winding your way down narrow mountain roads. It was not until the completion of the New River Gorge Bridge on October 22, 1977 that this travel problem was solved. However, the solution was not an easy one. Many technical problems had to be overcome. The Bridge reduced a 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads and across one of America’s oldest rivers to less than one minute. The West Virginia Department of Highways, which owns the bridge, chose the Michael Baker Company to do the design. The construction contract was awarded to the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel.

In June, 1974, the first steel was positioned over the gorge by trolleys running on 3″ diameter cables. The cables were strung 3,500 feet between matching pairs of 330-foot towers located on each side of the Gorge. Cor-ten steel, with its rust-like appearance that never needs painting, was used in the construction of the Bridge. Arching gracefully across the New River, the Bridge has the world’s 3rd longest single arch steel span. At 876 feet above the New River, it is the third highest bridge in this country. The Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River in Colorado is higher at 955′ while the second highest bridge is the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge between the Arizona and Nevada line towering at 886′.

Completion Height Bridge Length Arch Length Rise Final Cost Bid Price Weight Deck Width
October 22, 1977 876 ft. 3,030 ft. 1,700 ft. 360 ft. $37,000,000 $33,984,000 88,000,000 lbs. 69 ft.