Viaduct an Engineering Marvel

The Linn Cove Viaduct Bridge part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Image from the Library of Congress.On September 11, 1987, the Linn Cove Viaduct—part of the Blue Ridge Parkway—was completed in Avery County. Internationally recognized as an engineering marvel, the curved bridge spans 1,243 feet and hugs an environmentally sensitive area of Grandfather Mountain.

Construction began in 1979 and cost about $10 million to complete. The S-curve bridge consists of more than 150 precast individual segments joined together on Grandfather Mountain with epoxy glue and tension cables. Each of the segments weighs about 50 tons and is a different shape; only one is square and straight.

To minimize damage to the environment, the bridge served as its own building platform. Workers placed one segment after another using the bridge as their access road. As a consequence the viaduct proved that bridges could both achieve their transportation function and preserve the environment at the same time.

Since its opening, the viaduct has received numerous design awards including a Presidential Design Award in 1984 and the American Consulting Engineers Council Award for Engineering Excellence in 1985.

It is operated by the National Park Service as part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Explore the history of the parkway on Driving Through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway, a project of UNC-Chapel Hill.

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