Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia is All About the Numbers

As bridges go, the New River Gorge Bridge is pretty young: it was not built until 1977. At that time, it was the world's longest steel, single-span arch bridge. The bridge reduced a 40- minute drive on narrow country roads to less than a minute on a four-lane highway. The cost of construction was 37 million and it was completed in just over three years.

In the shot below, I caught a school bus joining the average 16,200 vehicles a day that cross the bridge.

The road is over 876 feet above the river. Zoom in on the graphic below to get a better sense of the height.

Bridge Day is held the third Saturday of October and, at that time, the road is closed to traffic and hundreds of people come from everywhere to jump off the bridge. It is interesting that more have died jumping off the bridge than in the building of it.

Others choose to cross under the bridge in rafts, canoes and kayaks.

This view upstream shows the old bridge.

Another bus, collecting rafters.

Prior to the use of these boats, wooden boats were the way to go.

A batteau is really just a wooden jon boat that is traditionally pointed on both ends. Its flat bottom could support heavy cargo through shallow but rapid water. The boats were poled by men and also steered by long rudders. A sail was sometimes attached, but was less functional.

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