Astoria–Megler Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Astoria-Megler Bridge
USACE Astoria-Megler Bridge.jpg
Carries 2 lanes of US 101 and bicycles
Crosses Columbia River
Locale Astoria, Oregon / Pacific County, Washington, USA
Maintained by Oregon DOT
ID number s0000548
Designer Oregon and Washington transportation departments
Design cantilever through-truss
Material steel
Total length 21,474 feet (6,545 m)
Width 28 feet (8.5 m)
Longest span 1,232 feet (376 m)
Number of spans 8 (main)
33 (approach)[1]
Piers in water 171
Clearance below 196 feet (60 m) at high tide
Construction begin November 5, 1962 (1962-11-05)
Construction end August 27, 1966 (1966-08-27)
Construction cost $24 million
Opened July 29, 1966 (1966-07-29)[2]
Inaugurated August 27, 1966 (1966-08-27)
Toll none (since December 1993)
Daily traffic 7100
Replaces Astoria–Megler Ferry
Coordinates 46°13′02″N 123°51′46″W / 46.21725°N 123.86291°W / 46.21725; -123.86291Coordinates: 46°13′02″N 123°51′46″W / 46.21725°N 123.86291°W / 46.21725; -123.86291

The Astoria–Megler Bridge is a steel cantilever through truss bridge that spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington, in the United States. Located 14 miles (23 km) from the mouth of the river, the bridge is 4.1 miles (6.6 km) long[3] and was the last completed segment of U.S. Route 101 between Olympia, Washington, and Los Angeles, California.[4] It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.


Ferry service between Astoria and the Washington side of the Columbia River began in 1926.[5] The Oregon Department of Transportation purchased the ferry service in 1946. This ferry service did not operate during inclement weather and the half-hour travel time caused delays. In order to allow faster and more reliable crossings near the mouth of the river, a bridge was planned. The bridge was built jointly by the Oregon Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Transportation.[6]

Construction on the structure began on November 5, 1962. The concrete piers were cast at Tongue Point, 4 miles (6 km) upriver. The steel structure was built in segments at Vancouver, Washington, 90 miles (145 km) upriver, then barged downstream where hydraulic jacks lifted them into place. On August 27, 1966, with more than 30,000 people in attendance, Governors Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Dan Evans of Washington opened the bridge by cutting a ceremonial ribbon. The cost of the project was $24 million, equivalent to $174 million today,[7] and was paid for by tolls that were removed on December 24, 1993, more than two years early.[3]


Astoria-Megler Bridge from the Astoria side of the Columbia River

The bridge is 21,474 feet (6,545 m) in length[8] and carries one lane of traffic in each direction. The main span is closest to the Oregon side and measures 1,232 feet (376 m) long.[5] The bridge was built to withstand 150 mph (240 km/h) wind gusts and river speeds of 9 mph (14 km/h).[4] As of 2004, an average of 7,100 vehicles per day use the Astoria–Megler Bridge.[9] Designed by William Adair Bugge (July 10, 1900 - November 14, 1992), construction of the cantilever truss bridge was completed by the DeLong Corporation, the American Bridge Company, and Pomeroy Gerwick.[10]

The south end is located at 46°11′14″N 123°51′15″W / 46.18723°N 123.85427°W / 46.18723; -123.85427 (Astoria-Megler Bridge south end) beside what used to be the toll plaza, at the end of a 650-metre (2,130 ft)[11] long inclined ramp which goes through a 360° loop while gaining elevation to clear the channel over land. The north end is at 46°14′27″N 123°52′30″W / 46.24084°N 123.87493°W / 46.24084; -123.87493 (Astoria-Megler Bridge north end) and connects directly to SR 401. Since most of the northern portion of the bridge is over non-navigable water, it is low to the water.

Repainting the bridge was planned for May 2009 through 2011 and budgeted at $20,000,000 to be shared by the states of Oregon and Washington.[12] However, a four year planned paint stripping and repainting project is planned for March 2012 through December 2016.[13]


Normally, only motor vehicles and bicycles are allowed on the bridge—not pedestrians.[14][15] However, one day a year, usually in October (in 2012, it is on September 30), the bridge is host to the Great Columbia Crossing.[16][17] The event uses the 4.1 mile-long (6.6 kilometer) bridge to cross the river. The entire route is 10 kilometers (6.21 miles). Participants are taken by shuttle to the Washington side from where they run or walk to the Astoria side. Motor traffic is allowed to use only one lane (of two lanes) and is advised to expect delays during the two hour race.

90° panorama of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and twilight-shrouded Astoria, Oregon. Looking southward from Point Ellice on the Washington side of the Columbia River. On the left, the Astoria Column is visible lit with holiday lights. Just right of the column is Saddle Mountain. In the center, between the piers of Astoria-Megler, lies the Youngs Bay Bridge, discernible by its overhead lights and the blur of traffic. The sky displays hues of pink and purple in this early-December photo
Panorama of the bridge taken from Astoria

Popular culture[edit]

The bridge itself is featured prominently in the movies Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, and The Goonies. It stands in for the doomed fictional Madison Bridge in Irwin Allen's 1979 made-for-TV disaster movie The Night the Bridge Fell Down.


  1. ^ "National Bridge Inventory Database". Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  2. ^ "July 29, 1966: Pacific Coast Route Completed With Opening of Astoria-Megler Bridge". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - 200 Years Later: Astoria-Megler Bridge". Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  4. ^ a b Holstine, Craig E.; Hobbs, Richard (2005). Spanning Washington: Historic Highway Bridges of the Evergreen State. Washington State University Press. p. 100. ISBN 0-87422-281-8. 
  5. ^ a b Astoria-Megler Bridge. Astoria & Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
  6. ^ Smith, Dwight A.; Norman, James B.; Dykman, Pieter T. (1989). Historic Highway Bridges of Oregon. Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 299. ISBN 0-87595-205-4. 
  7. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  8. ^ Oregon Coastal Highway Bridges
  9. ^ NBI Structure Number: 07949C009 00241. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
  10. ^ Astoria Bridge. Structurae. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
  11. ^ "Google Maps route". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  12. ^ "Astoria Megler Bridge Painting". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  13. ^ "Astoria Megler Bridge Painting - Phase 2". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  14. ^ Oregon Department of Transportation: Oregon Coast Bike Route
  15. ^ Cool Ship Watching Spots On the Lower Columbia
  16. ^ Astoria
  17. ^

External links[edit]