Sunset in Astoria
The Astoria–Megler Bridge is a steel cantilever through truss bridge that spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington, in the United States. Located 14 miles from the mouth of the river, the bridge is 4.1 miles long and was the last completed segment of U.S. Route 101 between Olympia, Washington, and Los Angeles, California. It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
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. The concrete piers were cast at Tongue Point, 4 miles upriver. The steel structure was built in segments at Vancouver, Washington, 90 miles upriver, then barged downstream where hydraulic jacks lifted them into place. On August 27, 1966, with more than 30,000 people in attendance, Governors Mark Hatfield of Oregon and Dan Evans of Washington opened the bridge by cutting a ceremonial ribbon. The cost of the project was $24 million, equivalent to $177 million today, and was paid for by tolls that were removed on December 24, 1993, more than two years early.
Astoria-Megler Bridge from the Astoria side of the Columbia River
The bridge is 21,474 feet 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 long, and its main (central) span measures 1,233 feet. The bridge was built to withstand 150 mph wind gusts and river water speeds of 9 mph. As of 2004, an average of 7,100 vehicles per day use the Astoria–Megler Bridge. Designed by William Adair Bugge (July 10, 1900 - November 14, 1992), construction of the cantilever truss bridge was completed by the DeLong Corporation, the American Bridge Company, and Pomeroy Gerwick.