New River Gorge Bridge
|New River Gorge Bridge|
|Crosses||New River, CR 82, CSX Transportation|
|Locale||Fayette County, West Virginia, United States|
|Maintained by||West Virginia Division of Highways|
|Total length||3,030 ft (924 m)|
|Width||69.3 ft (21.1 m), 4 lanes with center divider|
|Longest span||1,700 ft (518.2 m)|
|Vertical clearance||Deck arch, unlimited clearance|
|Clearance below||876 ft (267 m)|
|Opened||October 22, 1977|
|Daily traffic||16,200 vehicles/day|
The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge 3,030 feet (924 m) long over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. With an arch 1,700 feet (518 m) long, the New River Gorge Bridge was for many years the world's longest steel single-span arch bridge; 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.
The roadway of the New River Gorge Bridge is 876 feet (267 m) above the New River, making it the fifth highest vehicular bridge in the world, and the third highest in the Americas (behind the Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge over the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, bypassing the Hoover Dam, and the Royal Gorge Bridge). When it opened in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge was the highest vehicular bridge in the world, a record it kept until the 2004 opening of the Millau Viaduct in France. Several suspension bridges in China have since surpassed both of these bridges in height, with the current record holder being the Si Du River Bridge which opened in November 2009, with 1,549 feet (472 m) of clearance above the Si Du River.
In 2005, the structure was immortalized when the US Mint issued the West Virginia state quarter with the bridge depicted on one side.
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.
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.
Since its opening, the bridge has been the centerpiece of Fayette County's "Bridge Day", held the third Saturday of every October. This festival includes demonstrations of rappelling, ascending, and BASE jumping. 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.
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, and one other killed while performing an illegal jump.
The West Virginia state quarter, released in 2005, features the New River Gorge Bridge.
Bridge as seen from the National Park Service Visitors Center, with fog in the New River Gorge below
The New River Gorge Bridge as seen from a small fixed-wing airplane.The Tunney Hunsaker Bridge is also visible.
References and notes 
- "WVDOH: 2006 Fayette County Traffic Counts". West Virginia Division of Highways. 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- George R. Carter, Jr. "Mind the Gap: Building the World's Longest Steel-Arch Bridge," American Heritage, April/May 2006.
- Green, Diana Kyle (October 2011). "Fayette County High". Wonderful West Virginia: 4–7.
- The Lupu Bridge in Shanghai, China, completed February 8, 2003, is now the longest steel arch bridge by 32 m (105 ft), although the New River Gorge Bridge remains the longest of its particular type.
- The non-automotive Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, USA, a suspension bridge, has a higher deck than either the New River Gorge Bridge or even the Millau Viaduct, at 1,053 ft (321 m) above the Arkansas River.
- "Images of West Virginia". The Best of West Virginia. The Gallery. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "Bridge Walk". Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- Green, Diana Kile (October 2011). "Bridge Walk Wows". Wonderful West Virginia: 8–9.
- "BASE" is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs).
- Complete Bridge Day History, My West Virginia Home website
- BASE Jumping Fatality List
- "Californian Dies in Bridge Day Jump When Chute Fails to Open in Time". Huntington News. 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
See also 
- List of highest bridges in the world
- List of bridges in the United States by height
- Midland Trail, a nearby a National Scenic Byway nearby
- New River Gorge National River, the park surrounding the bridge
- State Quarters
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to:|
- Official Bridge Day History (Official History)
- Bridge Day (official site)
- New River Gorge Bridge at Bridges & Tunnels
- New River Gorge Bridge at Roads to the Future
- New River Gorge Bridge at Structurae
- New River Gorge Bridge, Spanning New River near Fayetteville, Fayetteville vicinity, Fayette, WV at the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER)