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New-River-Gorge-Suspension-Bridge.jpg(721 × 381 pixels, file size: 108 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)

A suspension bridge was one of proposed design alternatives considered in 1968 for the New River Gorge Bridge.

In 1968, the State Road Commission of West Virginia directed the consulting firm, Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., to proceed with the design of an 11-mile-long section of highway under the Appalachian Development Highway Program and including a 3,000-foot-long bridge spanning an 850-foot deep gorge. The site of the proposed bridge across the New River Gorge, was to be near Fayetteville, WV, in Fayette County.

Artist's rendering from 1973 of the New River Gorge Bridge as a steel-arch bridge
Several types of bridge were considered in the preliminary design, including a suspension bridge, a deck truss bridge, and an anchored, truss arch bridge. However, the design would not be decided until a final location was selected and the most aesthetic, economic, and practical design determined.

By 1970, plans were being advanced for construction of the New River Bridge envisioned as a 2,400-foot long suspension span -- depicted in the artist/illustrator's rendering at the top of this page. That same year, the photo was published in the March 10 edition of the The Charleston Gazette with a brief description of the suspension bridge that would be "the highest bridge east of Mississippi River." However, sometime prior to early-1972, the consulting firm determined the steel arch design would be more economical and would better adapt to the construction area. In October of 1973, William Domico, Bridge Design Section Head, West Virginia Dept. of Highway, was quoted as saying: "The job was so unusual, that from the beginning, many steel companies were involved. The best bridge minds in the country talked about this bridge and gave recommendations on how it should be constructed. The result was that the arch was selected instead of the trestle or suspension types." (1)


The Baker Engineer, Vol. XXV, 1977, Special Edition prepared especially for New River Banking & Trust Co., Michael Baker Corp.

1. Beckley Post Herald article New River Span To Have Largest Arch In World, Oct. 10, 1973

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