The New River Gorge Bridge carries U.S. Highway 19 over the New River and the CSX railroad at a height of 876 feet (267 m), making it the highest vehicular bridge in the Americas, and the second-highest in the world. (Before the 2004 opening of the Millau Viaduct in France, it was the highest in the world.)
Construction began on the bridge in June 1974, and completed on October 22, 1977. It was designed by the Michael Baker Company, under the direction of Chief Engineer Clarence V. Knudsen, and executed by U.S. Steel's American Bridge Division. Final cost of construction was $37 million (approximately $4 million over bid). It is made from Cor-ten steel. The use of Cor-ten in construction presented several challenges; notable among them was ensuring that the weld-points weathered at the same rate as the rest of the steel.
Many locals say, with little exaggeration, that completion of the bridge cut the travel time from one side of the gorge to another from 45 minutes to 45 seconds.
BASE jumper Brian Lee Schubert, 66, of Alta Loma, California, died during Bridge Day 2006 (Oct 21st) when his chute failed to open in time. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His death was the first that occurred during BASE jumping at the New River Gorge Bridge Day Festival since 1987, and only the third ever. One other BASE jumper was killed while performing an illegal, non Bridge Day related jump.