Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Cable-Stayed Bridges


Traditional suspension bridges use catenary or hanging cables, attached to towers at both ends and with cable or rod suspenders hanging vertically from the catenary cables to support the bridge deck below. By contrast, in cable-stayed bridges the individual support cables run from the tower directly to the bridge deck, radiating outward in a dramatic fan configuration. There are two elegant cable-stayed bridges on the Ohio River in West Virginia, one at Huntington and another at Weirton.

Within a total bridge length of 3,787 feet, the cable-stayed spans of the Frank Gatski Memorial Bridge in Huntington total 1,508 feet in two spans of 900 and 608 feet. The deck of the cable-stayed spans is supported by 31 pairs of steel cables, which are in turn supported by a single tower rising 280 feet above the deck. Completed in 1985, the cable-stayed spans were built to a design by Arvid Grant and Associates. The beautiful bridge connecting Huntington and Proctorville, Ohio, won the 1986 Federal Highway Administration’s award for design excellence.

In 1990, the other cable-stayed bridge opened for traffic across the Ohio, connecting Weirton and Steubenville, Ohio. Including the girder span, the total bridge length is 1,971 feet, 9 5/8 inches. Like the East Huntington bridge, the two main, cable-supported spans are unequal, being 820 feet and 687 feet, 11 inches. The most striking feature of this bridge is the 365- foot-high concrete tower in an inverted ‘‘Y’’ shape, which supports the cable stays. One of the legs of the tower has an elevator, while the other has a ladder. The cables consist of 26 pairs with 13 cables on the upstream and 13 cables on the downstream side of the deck. The cable system is symmetrical on each span. The piers and abutments were constructed by the Dravo Corporation in 1985 and the superstructure erected by S. J. Groves.

The bridges at East Huntington and Weirton are instantly recognizable landmarks, and the striking silhouette of a cable-stayed bridge is featured in the logo of the West Virginia Division of Highways.

Written by Emory L. Kemp