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New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia

The New River Gorge Bridge: A Marvel of Engineering and a Popular Attraction in West Virginia

Located in Fayetteville, West Virginia, the New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge that spans the New River Gorge, connecting the towns of Fayetteville and Thurmond. Completed in 1977, the bridge is an iconic symbol of West Virginia’s rich engineering history and a popular tourist attraction. In this article, we’ll explore the history, design, and significance of this incredible structure.

History and Construction

The New River Gorge Bridge was built to replace the previous ferry crossing that linked the two towns. The project was a collaboration between the West Virginia Department of Highways, the Federal Highway Administration, and the construction company, Bechtel Corporation. The bridge was designed to carry US Route 19 (Corridor L) across the New River Gorge, which is a designated national river and one of the oldest rivers in North America.

The construction process was a massive undertaking, involving the excavation of over 400,000 cubic yards of rock and soil, and the placement of over 4,500 tons of steel. The bridge’s foundation is anchored to the riverbed with 150-foot-long anchorages, and its two arches rise 851 feet above the river, making it one of the highest steel arch bridges in the United States.

Design and Architecture

The New River Gorge Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering and design. The bridge’s two arches are identical, each measuring 3,030 feet long and 120 feet high. The arches are supported by two piers, one on each side of the gorge, which are anchored to the rock formations on either side of the river. The bridge’s roadway is 84 feet wide, allowing for two lanes of traffic and a pedestrian walkway on one side.

The bridge’s design is a result of careful planning and consideration of the challenging terrain. The engineers had to contend with strong winds, fog, and extreme weather conditions, as well as the need to minimize the impact on the surrounding environment. The bridge’s architecture is a testament to the ingenuity and expertise of the engineers and construction teams involved in its creation.

Tourist Attraction and Adventure Spot

The New River Gorge Bridge is a popular tourist attraction, attracting visitors from all over the world. Visitors can drive across the bridge, take a guided tour, or even go skydiving or bungee jumping from the bridge’s pedestrian walkway. The bridge’s observation deck offers stunning views of the New River Gorge and the surrounding mountains, making it a must-visit destination for anyone visiting West Virginia.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the bridge is also a popular spot for adventure seekers. The bridge is a favorite among BASE jumpers, who jump from the bridge’s arches and freefall down to the river below. The bridge’s proximity to the New River Gorge’s many outdoor recreational activities, such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, and rock climbing, makes it an ideal base for explorers and thrill-seekers.

Conclusion

The New River Gorge Bridge is an engineering marvel and a must-visit destination in West Virginia. Its stunning design, rich history, and proximity to outdoor recreational activities make it a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re interested in history, engineering, or adventure, the New River Gorge Bridge has something to offer. So come and experience the thrill of crossing this incredible structure and take in the breathtaking views of the New River Gorge.

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