New River Gorge Bridge, Fayetteville, West Virginia, United States
The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge 3,030 feet long over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. 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 monumental steel arch built on a grand scale not often seen in bridge construction, the New River Gorge bridge in the U.S. state of West Virginia opened in 1977 as the highest and longest arch bridge in the world (at that time) with a height of 267 meters and a main span of 518 meters.
Built at a cost of 37 million dollars, the bridge was designed by the large engineering firm of Michael Baker, Jr. and constructed by the legendary American Bridge Company. Abandoned coal mine shafts just above the massive arch foundations on both sides of the gorge were filled with grout to prevent unwanted ground settlement. The decision to use a special type of steel that develops a brown colored rust coating that naturally protects the steel saves the West Virginia Department of Transportation a million dollars as they don’t need to paint the bridge and gives the span a natural, rugged look that blends into the tree-filled surroundings.
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.