The Top 8 Longest Bridges Across the State of Virginia
Bridges are a shortcut from point A to point B. Some are only a foot across and others are miles long, but they are all used for one purpose: To connect us. We’re here to learn about the top 8 longest bridges across Virginia, but there’s something else besides their impressive span that makes each of these structures unique!
8: Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County
Coming in at number 8 is the Natural Bridge. This bridge is unlike the others on this list because this one isn’t for cars.
Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia features a natural arch spanning 90 feet. It is the longest natural land bridge in Virginia and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1988. You can visit the Natural Bridge for hiking and scenic waterfall views… just leave your car in the parking lot.
7: Berkley Bridge in Norfolk
The Berkley Bridge is a man-made, double-leaf bascule bridge spanning 230 feet. It is situated on the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia. There is a small pedestrian walkway on the bridge for walkers or bikers to take in the views of the river.
Toll-free, the Berkley Bridge is one of only a small number of movable bridges on the Interstate Highway System.
6: George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge in York County
Nearly double in size from the Berkley Bridge is the George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge, a 450-foot double-swing-span bridge — the largest in the U.S. and the second largest in the world.
Built between 1950-1952, it is the only public crossing of the York River in York County, Virginia. But you’ll have to pay! Cars, trucks, and motorcycles get across for under $4 while those on a bicycle ride for free.
5: The Varina-Enon Bridge in Henrico County
Spanning 630 feet across the James River in Henrico County, Virginia, the Varina-Enon Bridge has won 7 design awards for featuring the world’s first use of precast concrete delta frames for construction. This innovation saved the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) over $10 million on the project!
If you’re an engineer, you might have heard of this bridge’s structural and design feats. If you’re an environmentalist, you might have heard about this bridge’s role in efforts to protect endangered peregrine falcons.
In the 1970s, VDOT placed nesting boxes for the falcons on the Varina-Enon Bridge during its construction in 1977. Over the years, the boxes on this bridge have helped in the recovery of the species in Virginia!
4: The Hampton Roads Bridge in Hampton
Coming in at number 4 by a landslide is the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, a 3.5-mile crossing for I-64 and US 60 traffic. The tunnel is a necessity for commuters heading from Hampton to Norfolk. And as the city’s population increased, the need for improvements became clear. This is why there is a tunnel expansion project slated to begin in 2023.
But back when it was first constructed in 1957, they made a decision focused on protection from wartime or natural disasters, not traffic control. Since the bridge is in close proximity to the world’s largest naval base, engineers included an expensive tunnel rather than a cost-effective drawbridge in the design. This is so that any damage to the bridge would not disrupt critical shipping channels nearby.
3. The James River Bridge in Newport News
The 4.5-mile James River Bridge is Virginia’s longest state-maintained lift bridge. Nearly 1 million vehicles cross over the James River Bridge each month to access South Hampton Roads, Newport News, or Isle of Wight County. This doesn’t even account for the naval traffic coming and going from one of the busiest ports on the East Coast!
2. The Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge in Suffolk
At 4.6 miles long, the Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel is the second-longest bridge in Virginia. This bridge is a part of the Hampton Roads Beltway, connecting the cities of Newport News and Hampton to Suffolk and Chesapeake.
These areas are popular spots for tourists and locals alike, so the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel has been helpful to ease and improve the flow of traffic to the Peninsula.
1. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge: The longest bridge in Virginia
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel holds the record for the longest bridge across the state of Virginia. This 17.6-mile scenic shortcut connects Virginia’s Eastern Shore to mainland Virginia via the Chesapeake Bay.
It takes between 20-25 minutes to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
While it is not the tallest bridge — that’s the Route 460 Connector, which stands at 265 feet — it is the longest bridge in Virginia that goes underwater, with 1-mile-long tunnels to greet you as you enter and exit.
Summary of the longest bridges across the state of Virginia
Here is a recap of the top 8 longest bridges in Virginia, including their total span.
|#1||Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel||17.6 miles|
|#2||Monitor–Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel||4.6 miles|
|#3||James River Bridge||4.5 miles|
|#4||Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel||3.5 miles|
|#5||The Varina-Enon Bridge||630 feet|
|#6||George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge||450 feet|
|#7||Berkley Bridge||230 feet|
|#8||Natural Bridge||90 feet|