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America’s scariest bridges for truckers

One bridge in Pacific Northwest, one in Mid-Atlantic and two in South among most frightening

(Photo: Oregon DOT)

Truckers encounter many bridges in this country that are downright frightening. From tight spaces to ghostly faces, these are just a few of the crossings that scare drivers the most.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

This iconic cantilever bridge between Oregon and Washington was formally dedicated in August 1966. It stretches 4.1 miles across the mouth of the Columbia River, from Astoria, Oregon, to Point Ellice, Washington. Its construction was an impressive feat. The bridge, part of U.S. Highway 101, spans 1,232 feet. Also known as the Oregon Coast Highway, the Astoria-Megler Bridge is the longest continuous truss bridge in the nation.

Astoria-Megler Bridge. (Photo: Oregon DOT)

The bridge is designed to withstand some of the toughest attacks from nature, but high winds of 60-plus mph have easily toppled 53-foot tractor-trailers on it. One driver told Trucking Truth that the Astoria-Megler Bridge “is scary in a four-wheeler. I could not even imagine taking it with a big rig.” A four-wheeler is a car or noncommercial truck or SUV.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) is one of the most notoriously frightening bridges in the country. Low guardrails, narrow lanes and high winds have made this bridge so terrifying that many people have been willing to pay $25 to have someone else drive their car, van, SUV or pickup truck across the structure for them.

The CBBT, which spans 17.6 miles, provides a direct link between southeastern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware plus the eastern shores of Maryland and Virginia). It cuts 95 miles from the journey between Virginia Beach and points north of Wilmington, Delaware.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. (Photo: CBBT Commission)

Following its opening in April 1964, the CBBT was selected as “One of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World” in a worldwide competition that included more than 100 major projects. Unfortunately, the CBBT has a dark history of tractor-trailer accidents.

In 2017, a driver died after his big rig plunged over the side of the CBBT during windy conditions. The attorney representing the driver’s widow in a lawsuit against the CBBT Commission said his firm searched for comparable cases against the CBBT but found none. This is despite the fact that at least 16 vehicles have gone into the water since the bridge-tunnel opened, most of them tractor-trailers.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, often referred to simply as the Skyway, is a cable-stayed bridge in Florida spanning the Lower Tampa Bay. It’s part of Interstate 275, connecting St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia, an unincorporated community in Manatee County.

The current Sunshine Skyway opened in 1987 and is the second bridge of that name on the site. The original bridge opened in 1954 and was the site of two major maritime disasters within a few months of each other in 1980.

First, in January, the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn collided with the tanker Capricorn near the bridge, resulting in the sinking of the cutter and the loss of 23 crew members. Then, on May 9, 35 people died when a cargo ship hit the bridge. A Greyhound bus and several cars sank in the water below.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge. (Photo: City of St. Petersburg, Florida)

In 2015, a water spout moved onto land and hit a tractor-trailer as the driver approached the bridge. The rig was contracted out by the Postal Service.

Within a few years, the damaged span was demolished, the surviving span was partially demolished and converted into a long fishing pier, and the current bridge was built. While strong winds still make truckers nervous on the Skyway, purported visitors from beyond the grave have scared them, too. Drivers have reported seeing ghosts on the old section of the bridge that is now the fishing pier. They claimed they heard what sounded like a bus coming toward them, followed by a gust of wind and the smell of gasoline.

Huey P. Long Bridge

Though the Huey P. Long-O.K. Allen Bridge in southeastern Louisiana has been widened, many drivers have horror stories about the Depression-era structure. Originally designed to accommodate Model-T’s when construction began in 1932, the bridge’s exceptionally narrow lanes and no shoulders made it both nerve-wracking and dangerous to cross until its widening was completed in June 2013.

It’s a truss cantilever bridge over the Mississippi River, carrying U.S. Highway 190 and one rail line between East Baton Rouge Parish and West Baton Rouge Parish. Although the bridge is named after former Louisiana Govs. Huey P. Long and Oscar K. Allen, it is known in the Baton Rouge area simply as “the old bridge.”

Huey P. Long Bridge. (Photo: Shawn Graham/U.S. Navy)

Although there have been tractor-trailer accidents on the bridge since it was widened, most people say it’s much safer than before. However, like the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida, drivers have been more afraid of spirits than of storms when crossing the Huey P. Long. They claim it’s haunted, and many drivers have described the bridge simply as “spooky.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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  1. David

    The Astoria Megler bridge is also pretty hairy on a motorcycle, especially two-up. The open grates at the bridge’s high point just add to the fun, especially in windy conditions (and when is it not?).

  2. FollowTheGulls

    Thanks to all those who have commented previously to correct the fact that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is located in Virginia. It is often confused with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge located in Maryland, which is known as one of the scariest bridges due to its steep incline/decline. The Bay Bridge in MD also is the facility that uses a private “drive-across” service ($$) for those fearful to make the trek on their own.

  3. JtheFATman

    The CBBT connects the Virginia Hampton Roads area to the eastern shore of Virginia. Maryland does have a Chesapeake Bay Bridge, known as one of the scariest bridges because of how high it climbs.

    Truck Driver

  4. Irene O’Brien

    It seems that during your research for this article you missed that the CBBT is not in Maryland, but in Virginia. Unless some how the whole of the Eastern Shore joined Maryland.

Comments are closed.

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.