New River Gorge Bridge
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. When it opened in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge was the highest vehicular bridge in the world. The New River Gorge Bridge remains one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world, and is currently the third highest in the United States. In 2005, the structure gained nationwide attention when the US Mint issued the West Virginia state quarter with the bridge depicted on one side. In 2013, the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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.
Completion of the bridge cut the vehicle travel time from one side of the gorge to the other from about 45 minutes to 45 seconds.