The New River Gorge Bridge draws more than 100,000 thrill-seekers and spectators
annually due to its soaring height and breathtaking views. B&N engineers have performed
annual inspections of this significant structure since 2008, as well as load rating
and rehabilitation repair design under contracts with the West Virginia Department
of Transportation (WVDOT).
The 3,030-foot span is the nation’s second highest towering 876 feet above the New
River. The structure also is the longest, single-span steel arch bridge in the western
hemisphere. B&N uses adapted rope access techniques to climb the arch members and
perform 400-foot rappels on the steel bents.
The B&N project team has completed in-depth inspections of all bridge components
and ultrasonic readings at key locations. The team also has performed periodic and
interim inspections, which focus on known deficiencies and fracture critical members.
Load Rating & Rehabilitation
B&N performed load rating on this bridge using a three-dimensional, finite element
model created with MIDAS software. This included large, geometrically complex gusset
plates. In addition, 4,840 bridge members were analyzed for multiple truck configurations,
section loss, wind and temperature loads.
As part of the rehabilitation, B&N designed structural concrete and structural steel
repairs for various parts of the bridge, such as arch members, columns, bearings,
relief joints and areas of the deck and deck truss.
Construction plans and related documents were prepared using inspection photographs
to detail the repair plans. Instead of providing line drawings for the existing
bridge members, repair details were superimposed onto the photos. This provided
the contractor with a three-dimensional perspective that made the repairs easier
The bridge load rating and rehabilitation was recognized as the Best Structural Systems Project in West Virginia during the 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies of West Virginia (ACECWV).