The Astoria–Megler Bridge is a steel cantilever through truss bridge in the northwest United States that spans the lower Columbia River, between Astoria, Oregon, and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington. Opened 54 years ago in 1966, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
Viewed from the Astoria side of the Columbia River
|Carries||2 lanes of US 101|
|Locale||Astoria, Oregon / Pacific County, Washington, USA|
|Maintained by||Oregon DOT|
|Total length||4.067 miles (6.55 km)|
|Width||28 feet (8.5 m)|
|Longest span||1,233 feet (376 m)|
|No. of spans||8 (main)|
|Piers in water||171|
|Clearance below||196 feet (60 m) at high tide|
|Designer||Oregon and Washington transportation departments|
|Construction start||November 5, 1962|
|Construction end||August 27, 1966|
|Construction cost||$24 million|
|Opened||July 29, 1966|
|Inaugurated||August 27, 1966|
|Toll||none (since December 1993)|
Located fourteen miles (23 km) from the mouth of the river at the Pacific Ocean, the bridge is 4.067 miles (6.55 km) in length, and was the final segment of U.S. Route 101 to be completed between Olympia, Washington, and Los Angeles, California.
Ferry service between Astoria and the Washington side of the Columbia River began in 1926. The Oregon Department of Transportation purchased the ferry service in 1946. This ferry service did not operate during inclement weather and the half-hour travel time caused delays. In order to allow faster and more reliable crossings near the mouth of the river, a bridge was planned. The bridge was built jointly by the Oregon Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Transportation.
Construction on the structure began on November 5, 1962, and the concrete piers were cast at Tongue Point, four miles (6.5 km) upriver. The steel structure was built in segments at Vancouver, Washington, ninety miles (140 km) upriver, then barged downstream where hydraulic jacks lifted them into place. The bridge opened to traffic on July 29, 1966, marking the completion of U.S. Route 101 and becoming the seventh major bridge built by Oregon in the 1950s–60s; ferry service ended the night before. On August 27, 1966, Governors Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Dan Evans of Washington dedicated the bridge by cutting a ceremonial ribbon. The four-day ceremony was celebrated by 30,000 attendees who participated in parades, drives, and a marathon boat race from Portland to Astoria. The cost of the project was $24 million, equivalent to $189 million today, and was paid for by tolls that were removed on December 24, 1993, more than two years early.
The bridge is 21,474 feet (4.0670 mi; 6.545 km) in length and carries one lane of traffic in each direction. The cantilever-span section, which is closest to the Oregon side, is 2,468 feet (752 m) long, and its main (central) span measures 1,233 feet (376 m). It was built to withstand 150 mph (240 km/h) wind gusts and river water speeds of 9 mph (14 km/h). As of 2004, an average of 7,100 vehicles per day use the Astoria–Megler Bridge. Designed by William Adair Bugge (1900–1992), construction of the cantilever truss bridge was completed by the DeLong Corporation, the American Bridge Company, and Pomeroy Gerwick.
The south end is located at  inclined ramp which goes through a full 360° loop while gaining elevation to clear the channel over land. The north end is at and connects directly to SR 401. Since most of the northern portion of the bridge is over shallow, non-navigable water, it is low to the water.beside what used to be the toll plaza, at the end of a 2,130-foot (650 m)
Repainting the bridge was planned for May 2009 through 2011 and budgeted at $20 million, to be shared by the states of Oregon and Washington. A four-year planned paint stripping and repainting project was planned for March 2012 through December 2016.
Normally, only motor vehicles and bicycles are allowed on the bridge—not pedestrians. However, one day a year, usually in October, the bridge is host to the Great Columbia Crossing. The event uses the bridge to cross the river. and the entire route is six miles (10 km). Participants are taken by shuttle to the Washington side, from where they run or walk to the Oregon side. Motor traffic is allowed to use only one lane (of two lanes) and is advised to expect delays during the two-hour race. For the first time, the Oregon Department of Transportation has announced that the bridge will be closed to motor traffic during the 2018 event.
The bridge itself is featured prominently in the movies Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Free Willy 2, and The Goonies. It stands in for the doomed fictional Madison Bridge in Irwin Allen's 1979 made-for-TV disaster movie The Night the Bridge Fell Down. Songwriter Sufjan Stevens most likely references the bridge in his song "Should Have Known Better" off his album Carrie & Lowell as a metaphor for dealing with his grief from the death of his mother.
A view of the bridge from the Astoria Column.
- Astoria Bridge. Structurae. Retrieved on July 5, 2015.
- "National Bridge Inventory Database". Retrieved July 5, 2015.
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- Astoria–Megler Bridge. Archived June 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Astoria & Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
- Smith, Dwight A.; Norman, James B.; Dykman, Pieter T. (1989). Historic Highway Bridges of Oregon. Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 299. ISBN 0-87595-205-4.
- "Last link". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). (AP wirephoto). December 10, 1965. p. 1.
- "Astoria Bridge Over Columbia in Service". Statesman Journal. July 30, 1966. p. 3. Retrieved June 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Two Governors Officiate At Astoria Bridge Dedication". The Oregonian. August 28, 1966. p. 1.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
- "Oregon Coastal Highway Bridges". Oregon Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2015.
- "Big bridge ends high over water". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press (& photo). October 30, 1964. p. 16.
- NBI Structure Number: 07949C009 00241.[permanent dead link] Nationalbridges.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2008.
- "Google Maps route". Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- "Astoria–Megler Bridge Painting". Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- "Astoria Megler Bridge Painting - Phase 2". Archived from the original on December 14, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- Oregon Department of Transportation: Oregon Coast Bike Route Archived May 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Cool Ship Watching Spots On the Lower Columbia". Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2008.
- passport2oregon.com: Astoria
- Bridge closure for Great Columbia Crossing: Daily Astorian
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Astoria-Megler Bridge.|
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. OR-50, "Columbia River Gorge Bridge at Astoria, Spanning Columbia River at Oregon Coast Highway (U.S. Route 101), Astoria, Clatsop County, OR", 3 photos, 1 color transparency, 2 photo caption pages
- funbeach.com: Astoria–Megler Bridge
- oldoregon.com: Astoria–Megler Bridge
- Great Columbia Crossing