Astoria–Megler Bridge

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Astoria–Megler Bridge
City of Astoria, Oregon in the foreground with the Astoria–Megler Bridge spanning the Columbia River to Washington State
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
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
Design cantilever through-truss
Material steel
Total length 21,474 feet (6,545 m)
Width 28 feet (8.5 m)
Longest span 1,233 feet (376 m)[1]
No. of spans 8 (main)
33 (approach)[2]
Piers in water 171
Clearance below 196 feet (60 m) at high tide
Designer Oregon and Washington transportation departments
Construction start November 5, 1962 (1962-11-05)
Construction end August 27, 1966 (1966-08-27)
Construction cost $24 million
Inaugurated August 27, 1966 (1966-08-27)
Opened July 29, 1966 (1966-07-29)[3]
Replaces Astoria–Megler Ferry
Daily traffic 7100
Toll none (since December 1993)

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[4] and was the last completed segment of U.S. Route 101 between Olympia, Washington, and Los Angeles, California.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

Construction on the structure began on November 5, 1962. The concrete piers were cast at Tongue Point, 4 miles (6.4 km) upriver. The steel structure was built in segments at Vancouver, Washington, 90 miles (140 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 $177 million today,[8] and was paid for by tolls that were removed on December 24, 1993, more than two years early.[4]


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

The bridge is 21,474 feet (6,545 m) in length[9] and carries one lane of traffic in each direction. The cantilever-span section, which is closest to the Oregon side, is 2,468 feet (752 m) long,[9] and its main (central) span measures 1,233 feet (375.8 m).[1] The bridge was built to withstand 150 mph (240 km/h) wind gusts and river water speeds of 9 mph (14 km/h).[5] As of 2004, an average of 7,100 vehicles per day use the Astoria–Megler Bridge.[10] 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.[1]

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 shallow, 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, the bridge is host to the Great Columbia Crossing.[16][17] The event uses the 4-mile-long (6.4 km) bridge to cross the river. The entire route is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi). Participants are taken by shuttle to the Washington side, from where they run or walk to the Oregon side. Motor traffic is allowed to use only one lane (of two lanes) and is advised to expect delays during the two-hour race.

Popular culture[edit]

The bridge itself is featured prominently in the movies Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy and Free Willy 2 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.


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, showing it reach across the Columbia towards Washington State.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Astoria Bridge. Structurae. Retrieved on July 5, 2015.
  2. ^ "National Bridge Inventory Database". Retrieved 2015-07-05. 
  3. ^ "July 29, 1966: Pacific Coast Route Completed With Opening of Astoria–Megler Bridge". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  4. ^ a b "Lewis & Clark's Columbia River – 200 Years Later: Astoria–Megler Bridge". Retrieved 2013-01-25. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Astoria–Megler Bridge. Archived June 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Astoria & Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Oregon Coastal Highway Bridges". Oregon Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ NBI Structure Number: 07949C009 00241.[permanent dead link] Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
  11. ^ "Google Maps route". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  12. ^ "Astoria–Megler Bridge Painting". Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  13. ^ "Astoria Megler Bridge Painting - Phase 2". Archived from the original on 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  14. ^ Oregon Department of Transportation: Oregon Coast Bike Route Archived May 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Cool Ship Watching Spots On the Lower Columbia
  16. ^ Astoria
  17. ^

External links[edit]