If you want a shortcut to the Outer Banks then you want to jet across the longest bridge in North Carolina. You could go the long way and drive up 64 from Manns Harbor and cross the William B. Umstead Bridge to land on Roanoke Island or you can thank the engineers who built a behemoth bridge across the Croatan Sound to land right in Roanoke Island. Read on to find out everything about the longest bridge in North Carolina…a 5.2-mile behemoth!
What is the Longest Bridge in North Carolina?
The longest bridge in North Carolina is the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge. This massive bridge cuts across the Croatan Sound saving drivers miles and miles of driving to get from Manns Harbor on the mainland to Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks. Most of the bridge was built over the sound (4.45 miles) but some of it also tracks across wetlands (.75 miles).
When was the Longest Bridge in North Carolina Built?
The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge was completed on August 16, 2002. The construction of the bridge took around 3 ½ years to complete. Planning for the bridge started in 1997 when Wilbur Smith Associates was awarded the contract. Engineers had to map out how to support a bridge spanning the sound, one of the deeper sounds in the outer banks, with some support pilings (concrete posts drilled into the ground with a pile driver) that are more than 100 feet deep below water! The actual construction of the bridge was handled by Balfour Beatty Construction.
Why did they build another Bridge across the Croatan Sound?
The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge was built in response to repeated hurricanes forcing people to evacuate Roanoke Island. With an increase in visitors to the Outer Banks over the years the population of the island during the tourist season became too much for the one bridge to handle during evacuations. The summer of 1996 prompted two evacuations including the strongest hurricane to hit North Carolina, Hurricane Fran. The William B. Umstead Bridge crosses the Croatan Sound but it is only a two-lane bridge. Officials knew they needed to add a second bridge so the plans for the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge began to take shape.
How Much Did the Longest Bridge in North Carolina Cost?
The cost to build the longest bridge in North Carolina was 90 million dollars! If you compare that to the cost of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in neighboring South Carolina you’d be surprised how economical it was. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (or Cooper River Bridge) is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the Cooper River in Charleston. The cost of that bridge project was reportedly more than 600 million dollars!
How does the Length of the Virginia Dare Bridge Compare to Other East Coast Bridges?
At 5.2 miles long it is one of the longest bridges on the East Coast. Compared to the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge it is nearly twice as long with the Ravenel Bridge being 2.7 miles long. The longest bridge in Georgia is the Sidney Lanier Bridge which is 1.5 miles long. The Brooklyn Bridge in New York is “only” 1.1 miles long so that gives you a bit of a comparison.
What is the Longest Bridge in the United States?
The longest bridge in the United States is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. That bridge is 24 miles long! The Lake Pontchartrain is built to withstand strong hurricanes, just like the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge. It is the longest continuous bridge over water. Other long bridges cross swamps and wetlands like the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, connecting Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The swampy wetlands of the Atchafalaya Basin are the largest swamp area in the United States. Interestingly, the Croatan Sound in North Carolina used to be a swampy area years ago when early colonizers first arrived in the states. Now it is one of the less salty sounds in the Outer Banks and supports a wide range of wildlife.
What is the Longest Bridge in the World?
The longest bridge in the world is the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China. While this bridge is technically a viaduct it is still an impressive expansion of engineering. It passes over open water as well as land, connecting the cities of Shangai and Nanjing. The bridge was completed in 2010 and opened in 2011. Can you guess how long this massive bridge is? The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge is 102.4 miles long. For comparison, if there was a bridge that went from Los Angles down to San Diego that would have to be around 120 miles. Now that is a long bridge!
Who is Virginia Dare?
The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge is after the first English child born in the Americas. The first birth took place back in 1587, nearly 436 years ago. Her birth date was August 18, 1587. At the time, Roanoke Island was a Virginia colony so her parents rightfully chose to name her Virginia. Her mother was the daughter of the governor of Roanoke Colony, John White. Ellinor Dare (Virginia’s mother) and Ananias Dare, her father were part of an expedition sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. The group of 120 settlers is also the “Lost Colony”. Shortly after Virginia’s birth, Governor White returned to England to get supplies but when he got back to Roanoke Island (3 years later) there was no trace of Virginia Dare, her parents, or any of the original settlers. Still a mystery!
Where Is The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge Located on a Map?
The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge cuts across Croatan Sound in North Carolina, so those in Manns Harbor on the mainland can get to Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks much quicker! It is 5.2 miles long, the longest on the East Coast.
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