10 Scenic Prize Bridges You Should Visit

Shenandoah River Bridge Delta Frame

Every two years the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) honors outstanding and innovative steel bridges constructed in the U.S. via the Prize Bridge Awards. Prize Bridges showcase the beauty and efficiency of steel among some of America’s most breathtaking locales. While Prize Bridges aren’t judged on views, the following winners are situated in urban and natural backdrops worthy of recognition. You’ll want to save these spots for your next U.S. road trip. 

Have you recently worked on a bridge that embodies the pioneering spirit of modern bridge-building? We want to hear about it! Submit your project here for the 2020 Prize Bridge Awards Program. 


1. Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Moose Run Golf Course

Anchorage, AK – 2018, Special Purpose

A strikingly beautiful bridge serves as a signature crossing for golfers on the Moose Run Golf Course. The Moose Run Golf Course suspension bridge used a unique approach that saved construction costs while mitigating environmental impacts to the surrounding area. To support the bridge deck, a system of horizontal and vertical cables spans between two vertical towers.

2. Wells Street Bridge

Chicago, IL – 2016, Reconstructed  

The Wells Street Bridge is the longest double-deck, double-leaf, bascule bridge built over the Chicago River, and only one of two remaining bascule bridges in the city of Chicago that carries both automobile and transit (Chicago Transit Authority elevated trains) on two levels.

In-depth inspection and analysis of the 1922-built bridge revealed that substantial structural rehabilitation was required. As the bridge carries an average daily traffic of approximately 12,000 vehicles and serves nearly 4,500 pedestrians a day on the lower level and two major transit lines carrying 70,000 riders per day on the upper level, the crucial crossing had to be rehabilitated with minimal impact to its users.

3. Shenandoah River Bridge Delta Frame

Jefferson County, WV – 2014, Major Span

The opening verse to John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" hints at the natural beauty of the Shenandoah River Valley in West Virginia's eastern panhandle.

To accommodate increasing travel demands to the area, which is about an hour from Washington, D.C., the West Virginia Division of Highways initiated a project to improve West Virginia Highway 9, including a new bridge across the Shenandoah River. HDR Engineering developed a delta frame design that delivered significant savings compared to proposals for more traditional designs. The resulting signature shape of the Shenandoah River Bridge was as pleasing to the bottom line as it is to the eye.

4. Burro Creek Canyon Bridge

Between Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ – 2007, Major Span

Arizona U.S. Highway 93 runs north to south through central Arizona and is the primary transportation corridor between Phoenix and Las Vegas. Transportation growth through this corridor and related safety concerns necessitated an expansion of the corridor—and a second Burro Creek Bridge.

The original Burro Creek Bridge, which carried two-way auto traffic, is a truss arch structure with spandrel columns supporting the roadway deck and plate girder approach spans. The final design for the new bridge design was also a truss arch, but using weathering steel for future maintenance reasons.

5. Appalachian Corridor H over Clifford Hollow

Hardy County, WV – 2005, Long Span 

Clifford Hollow Bridge crosses Clifford Hollow, a deep valley adjacent to Route 55 on Appalachian Corridor H, a West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) highway development corridor. The six-span steel plate girder bridge crosses the hollow on a tangent alignment and carries two lanes of traffic in each direction. It is approximately 464 m (1,522') long from abutment to abutment, and its deck is approximately 85 m (280') above the floor of the hollow.

 6. New Croton Dam Spillway Bridge

Cortlandt, Westchester County, NY– 2005, Medium Span

The historic New Croton Dam has been a key element of the New York City reservoir system since 1906. A new 200'-long steel arch bridge over the New Croton Dam spillway provides a focal point for this historic stone masonry dam.

Large arch base displacements and other problems necessitated emergency closure of the previous bridge to traffic. This bridge was constructed in 1975 to replace the original structure, which was constructed in 1905. The design team was challenged with a fast-track bridge replacement and overall aesthetic improvement, as well as maximizing service life and devising innovative procedures for erection over the spillway torrent.

7. Cooper River Bridge 

Charleston, SC – 2005, Special Purpose

The dramatic Cooper River Bridge—one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in North America—opened in July 2005 a year ahead of schedule, saving the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) an estimated $150 million. A week of festivities, including a fireworks display, an on-deck performance by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and a walk across the bridge by more than 100,000 people, celebrated this bridge dedicated to South Carolina State Senator Arthur Ravenel, Jr.

The approximately three-mile-long bridge, including the main span, high level approaches, ramps and interchanges, was designed and constructed in a four year period. The bridge’s main span allows for both a widening of the navigation channel to 1,000' and a deepening of the dredged depth of 10' to accommodate larger shipping vessels.

8. Golden Gate Bridge 

San Francisco, CA – 1986, Reconstructed; 1937, Class A, First Place

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge has won two Prize Bridge awards: the first in 1937 for its construction and the second in 1986 for deck replacement. The bridge's original project cost was $27,000,000 and it was completed on May 26, 1937.

In the 1980s, orthotropic design technology permitted deck replacement–without ever stopping traffic–of the entire 60-ft-wide reinforced concrete roadway and its supporting structural steel members. In addition to widening the roadway by 2 ft, the project also included rehabilitating approximately 15,500 ft of structural steel sidewalk framing, fabricating about 3,000 ft of new structural steel sidewalk framing, and fitting the entire length of the bridge with new sidewalks. The replaced structural section was sturdier yet lighter than the original roadway by approximately 30%, reducing the dead load by approximately 19,000 kips.

Photo: MrProhoroff, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

9. Sheeps Crossing Trail Bridge

Madera County, CA – 1984, Special Purpose

This hiker's bridge is part of an extensive network of trail systems in the Sierra National Forest and crosses the North Fork of the San Joaquin River. In a highly sensitive environment, the appearance of the bridge could not interfere with the scenic surroundings or cause construction disturbances to the site. Thus, the designers created a lightweight steel-stayed suspension bridge, shop fabricated and helicoptered to the site in sections with field-bolted connections. To minimize future maintenance, all metal was hot-dip galvanized. The timber-decked, lightweight, thin superstructure adds excitement for those who cross.

Photo: longozrouge, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

10. Glen Canyon Bridge

Page, AZ – Class I Award, 1959

The steel arch Glen Canyon Bridge carries U.S. Route 89 across the Colorado River in Page, Ariz., just 865 ft downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam. It was built to aid in the construction of the dam and was later transferred to the state of Arizona. With a deck 700 ft above the river, Glen Canyon Bridge was the highest arch bridge in the world when it was completed in 1959.