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America’s scariest bridges for truckers: Part 5

Two in the Northeast and two connecting US and Canada make the list

Burlington-Bristol Bridge. (Ottseetotsee/Wikimedia)

Based on comments posted to the FreightWaves Facebook page, there are more bridges that wrack the nerves of some truckers and other drivers, especially during rough weather.

Williamsburg Bridge

The Williamsburg Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City. It crosses the East River, connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Interstate 278 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Completed in 1903, it was the longest suspension bridge span in the world until 1924.

“You want scary? Drive an overweight truck over the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan,” former big rig driver Robert Bauer said. “I did it my whole career.”

Williamsburg Bridge (Photo: Dennis Binzen/Flickr)

The bridge is one of four toll-free vehicular bridges connecting Manhattan Island and Long Island (which includes Brooklyn). The Williamsburg Bridge was supposed to become part of I-78 until the planned designation was aborted by the cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway and Bushwick Expressway.

After several decades of repairs and patchwork, the bridge was rebuilt during the 1990s and 2000s. In 2017, the New York City Department of Transportation announced traffic restrictions on the Williamsburg Bridge. Between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day, the bridge would only be open to vehicles with more than three passengers, as well as buses and trucks.

Burlington-Bristol Bridge

The Burlington-Bristol Bridge is a truss bridge with a lift span. It crosses the Delaware River from Burlington, New Jersey, to Bristol Township, Pennsylvania. Construction of the bridge started in April 1930, and the bridge opened to traffic in May 1931.

The two-lane bridge has a total length of 2,301 feet and is operated by the Burlington County Bridge Commission. The lift span is 540 feet long and it’s lifted by two large concrete slabs using a motorized pulley system and gravity. The slabs block traffic when they’re all the way down.

“Burlington-Bristol Bridge sucks!” exclaimed New Jersey-based trucker and owner-operator Anthony LaBattaglia. “It’s a very tight bridge — lots of mirrors get taken off. It’s horrible.”

In 2016, traffic signals and barrier gates were installed at each end of the bridge for stopping traffic when the draw span is being lifted. Also, a municipal garage is located underneath the rising road after the tollbooths.

Ambassador Bridge

The Ambassador Bridge is a toll suspension bridge across the Detroit River, connecting Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, Canada. According to the Detroit Regional Chamber, it’s the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume. It carries more than 25% of all merchandise between the United States and Canada and 60 to 70% of commercial truck traffic in the region.

Ambassador Bridge (Photo: alyssa BLACK./Flickr)

The bridge is one of the few privately owned U.S.-Canada crossings, owned by Grosse Pointe, Michigan, billionaire Manuel Moroun until his death in July 2020.

One person told FreightWaves, “Only bridges I’ve been sketched out by are the Ambassador Bridge, Mackinac Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge, but only because of weather or amount of traffic.”

Blue Water Bridge

The Blue Water Bridge is a twin-span international toll road across the St. Clair River, linking Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario. The Blue Water Bridge connects Highway 402 in Ontario with both I-69 and I-94 in Michigan.

The original span is a cantilever truss bridge with a total length of 6,178 feet and a main span of 871 feet. The second, newer span is a continuous bowstring arch bridge with a total length of 6,109 feet and a main span of 922 feet. The first bridge was opened to traffic in October 1938. In 1992, bridge authorities decided to add a second span in order to accommodate increasing traffic. The second bridge, just south of the first bridge, opened in July 1997.

Blue Water Bridge (Photo: David J. Sullivan/Wikimedia)

The Blue Water Bridges are jointly owned and maintained by Canada and the United States. According to the Center for Land Use and Interpretation, they are the second-busiest commercial crossing on the Canada-United States border, after the Ambassador Bridge.

Perhaps the scariest thing about the Blue Water Bridge are potential run-ins with the law. In the past few years, several truckers have been busted at both ends for trafficking cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and Fentanyl.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

America’s scariest bridges for truckers: Part 2
America’s scariest bridges for truckers: Part 3
America’s scariest bridges for truckers: Part 4

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.