Texas is home to diverse landscapes and some of the largest cities in the country. As a way to support its high population, many bridges connect high-traffic areas. Keep reading to discover which bridge is the most terrifying in Texas and why drivers avoid it if they can.
What Is the Most Terrifying Bridge in Texas?
The most terrifying bridge in Texas is the Rainbow Bridge. The 210-foot structure passes over the Neches River as part of State Highways 87 and 73. It connects the city of Port Arthur in Jefferson County with Bridge City in Orange County. The overpass was constructed between 1936 and 1938 using concrete and steel to meet the traffic needs of residents. The city also wanted to create enough clearance for large ships to travel to and from the Bethlehem Beaumont Shipyard.
How Steep Is the Rainbow Bridge?
What makes the Rainbow Bridge the most terrifying bridge in Texas is its steep incline. The structure is 7,760 feet long and stretches over the Neches River with a main span clearance of 680 feet and a vertical clearance of 177 feet. The steepest incline is 5 percent grade every 100 feet. Rainbow Bridge will surely put a pit in your stomach if you’re afraid of heights. The lack of shoulder space to stop if your car breaks down makes it even more terrifying. However, it could be worse. The bridge used to be a two-way road!
History of the Rainbow Bridge
Originally named Port Arthur-Orange Bridge, the bridge was constructed to meet the demands of growing populations in Jefferson and Orange counties at the start of the 20th century. Residents relied on ferries for transportation and cars for cargo. However, transport volumes increased in the 1920s to 1930s, putting a strain on the local government to devise a solution. They proposed building a bridge between Beaumont and Port Arthur to make State Highway travel across the Neches River more efficient.
Many years of deliberation followed. Beaumont residents feared the location would hinder the Bethlehem Beaumont Shipyard and its sea platforms. They believed more ferries and drawbridges were the ideal solution. However, the Port Arthur community insisted on a permanent structure with a high clearance. The clearance needed be high enough for the tallest Navy Ship, the USS Patoka, to pass freely. However, the ship never passed through.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt supported the construction project to provide jobs during the Great Depression. The bridge stirred quite the commotion among residents. They lined up for miles to cross it the day it opened on September 8, 1938. Its sister arch, the Veterans Memorial Bridge, was added in 1990. This bridge is 9,440 feet long with towers that reach 272 feet into the air.
After several decades of contention between the surrounding communities, it was renamed in 1957. The most terrifying bridge in Texas earned its new name from six-year old Christy McClintock. She suggested the historic structure take the name “rainbow” because its steep arch gives it the shape of a rainbow. The bridge was the tallest in the state for many years, but was surpassed by the Pecos High Bridge in Comstock, Texas.
Wildlife Near the Rainbow Bridge
The Neches River flows through the center of the Central Flyway, or “interstate highway,” of migratory birds. The terrain provides a place for ducks, cranes, geese, ibis, orioles, and warblers to rest every year. Moreover, river banks along the Neches River offer a space for turtles, frogs, and other animals to rest. Some fish that live in the Neches River near the most terrifying bridge in Texas are white bass, largemouth bass, and blue and channel catfish.
Nearby is the city of Beaumont, known as a farming and lumber town, as well as having the largest oil boom in U.S. history. There are still many farms and family ranches, so those in the area can catch a glimpse of chickens, rabbits, ducks, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, and other livestock. Beaumont is also a great birding spot. The warmer weather months bring migratory birds to this part of the state. There are even popular birding trails close to their migration routes.
Wild mammals in the area include deer, raccoons, gray squirrels, opossums, armadillos, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats. However, the nocturnal animals are harder to see during the day since they prowl at night.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock.com
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