The viaduct was needed because of the damage that a traditional cut-and-fill road would have caused to Grandfather Mountain. The viaduct was designed by Figg and Muller Engineers, Inc. Construction began in 1979. It is 1,243 feet (379 m) long and consists of 153 segments weighing 50 tons each. The bridge's segments were precast at an indoor facility at the south side of the parkway. After being transported to the bridge site, each section was lowered into place by a custom crane placed on either edge of the existing structure. The only work done at ground level was drilling for the seven footings which support the viaduct. In particular, there was no access road other than the Blue Ridge Parkway itself. The bridge has received eleven design awards.