Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The bridge to heaven

The Rainbow Bridge between Bridge City and Port Arthur, TX isn't quite as steep as it looks here, but once you know the history, you'll appreciate a ride to the top on it.

According to the "Handbook of Texas Online" -- the proposal of a bridge to replace a ferry along Highway 87 casued a fight between Beaumont and Port Arthur factions -- Beaumont folk were fearful a bridge would impede navigation of the river up to Beaumont's dock. Port Arthur wanted the bridge to allow more vehicle traffic along the highwat and therefore more commerce.

"Beaumont representatives offered to end the controversy if the Port Arthur faction would approve a vertical clearance of 185 feet for the bridge. The matter ended with a compromise of 176 feet. The bridge was built with a vertical clearance of 176+ feet, a main span of 680 feet between main piers, and 600 feet between fenders. The clearance was to allow the tallest ship afloat at the time (the Navy dirigible tender USS Patoka) to pass."

At the time this was the largest bridge ever built by the Texas Highway Department ( it was also built to withstand a 130 mph wind -- something it has been tested with a few times in recent years)

Check out the whole story.

--steve buser

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