The Lin Cove Viaduct is truly a modern marvel. As a matter of fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded its prestigious “Civil Engineering Achievement of Merit” to the viaduct in 1984 even before it was opened to public traffic in September of 1987.
Had it not been for the protestations of Hugh Morton, an avid environmentalist and owner of
Blue Ridge Parkway
To call the viaduct a bridge is akin to calling the Mona Lisa a picture. This “S” shaped masterpiece of ingenuity is hands down, the most complex bridge project ever built.
Utilizing a process called “match casting”, the 153 segments of the bridge were actually pre-cast off site at an indoor facility a few miles away. Each individual segment was cast to fit the previously installed segment to a tolerance of 0.0001 feet and the accuracy of this process was controlled by computerized measurements.
To lessen the environmental impact of the project the individual concrete segments were carefully created using a blend of iron oxide in the casting process to insure that the project blended in with the color of the mountain itself. Weighing fifty tons each, the segments, once cast, were then hauled to the construction site and put into place by cranes. A little known yet amazing fact is that these segments were actually joined with a form of “super glue” and steel cables which were passed through them and then anchored to the deck of the bridge itself. No two segments were alike and only one segment in the entire viaduct is straight.
Meticulous planning went into the conservation of the environment surrounding this massive project in accordance with the concerns of environmentalists. The viaduct was actually built from top to bottom so as to do away with the need for a road to be hacked out of the forest. Considered extremely visionary for it’s time, this method also insured that only those trees beneath the bridge itself were cut down. So careful were the contractors that they even covered the rocks and trees surrounding the area so that none would be marred by the accidental spillage of the industrial strength “super glue” used to join the bridge segments.
A local man who worked on the project, spoke of the difficulty of working on the viaduct.
“Working on the side of that mountain at over 4,100 feet was not work for the faint of heart! Winter was the absolute worst. I was born and raised in
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on
No tour of the High Country area of
Blue Ridge Parkway.