- There are around 14,000 bridges in Virginia, and the Route 460 Connector is the highest at 265 feet.
- Before the Route 460 Connector opened, Virginia’s highest bridge was the 175-foot-tall scenic Wilson Creek Bridge in Montgomery County.
- The Route 460 Connector is located near the lush 4,500-acre Breaks Interstate Park, often called the “Grand Canyon of the South.”
Virginia is home to the first English colony ever founded in America. It’s also the tenth state admitted to the Union and home to eight U.S. presidents, including the nation’s first, George Washington. With both mountains and seascape, Virginia is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and lies within the Appalachian Mountain Range.
With its many mountain passes and bodies of water, Virginia has a lot of bridges within its borders. But there is one architectural marvel that towers above the rest. Read on to discover the highest bridge in Virginia.
The Highest Bridge in Virginia
At 265 feet high, the highest bridge in Virginia is the Route 460 Connector. The bridge contains 1,733-foot twin segmental bridges crossing Grassy Creek and connecting the states of Virginia and Kentucky. Recognized as a top bridge project in America, the twin bridges took years to design and construct. It’s also one of the highest bridges in the United States.
US Route 460 is a spur route of US Route 60 and a major highway running east-west through Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Built to improve local traffic and provide a link between US Route 460 and Virginia’s Coalfields Expressway, officials hope the bridge will encourage tourism and help generate economic development in the rural area.
Where is the Route 460 Connector Located on a Map?
The highest bridge in Virginia is located in the western part of the state on Route 460 near Breaks Interstate Park. The twin bridges and four lanes of traffic cross Grassy Creek and Conaway Road just south of the Virginia-Kentucky state border.
The bridge is located in an extremely rural area with the most recognizable cities (Lexington, KY, and Knoxville, TN) around three hours away.
History of Virginia’s Highest Bridge
Before the Route 460 Connector opened, Virginia’s highest bridge was the 175-foot-tall scenic Wilson Creek Bridge in Montgomery County. Although the Route 460 Connector Bridge opened just a few years ago in 2020, the design of the bridge began in 2009. The massive design-build project was awarded to Bizzack Construction and took six years to complete from design to construction.
The bridge was completed in 2015, however, the impressive bridge stood tall but led to nowhere for five years. It couldn’t open until Kentucky completed its construction on Route 460 connecting the bridge. Finally, this work was finished in 2020, and Virginia’s highest bridge opened to traffic.
Design and Construction
The twin bridges are segmental. They contain a deck width of 43 feet carrying two lanes of traffic in each direction. The design was challenging due to the mountainous terrain. Workers could not haul precast segments over the mountains, so they built the bridge using cast-in segments. The construction team even built an on-site concrete batch plant which supplied 16,000 cubic yards of concrete for the structure. Large equipment was brought in, including haulers, loaders, and dozers to move the massive amounts of earth and rock.
Wildlife Near the Route 460 Connector Bridge
The bridge, located in a rural area nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, is full of diverse wildlife. Underneath the bridge, the flowing waters of Grassy Creek are abundant with fish including rainbow trout, bluegill, river chub, and smallmouth bass.
Near the bridge is the gorgeous Breaks Interstate Park, home of the Breaks Canyon. The canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the South,” is five miles long and was carved over millions of years by the Russell Fork River.
Visitors to the park can spot a variety of wildlife including bobcats, black bears, white-tailed deer, gray tree frogs, and red foxes. Snakes are abundant as well, including the eastern milk snake, northern copperhead, and ring-necked snake. Though not typically seen because they only come out at night, little brown, big brown, and hoary bats also live in the area.
A popular spot for birdwatching, some of the species people often encounter include:
- Turkey vultures
- Kentucky warblers
- Northern cardinals
- Blue jays
- Louisiana waterthrush
- Chipping sparrows
- Tufted titmouse
- White-breasted nuthatch
The photo featured at the top of this post is © rarrarorro/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.