Gephyrophobia, the fear of bridges, can induce panic attacks. So can acrophobia, the fear of heights. A double whammy is pure bad luck. Add ghost stories from the numerous deaths that occur near these often gravity-defying structures, and you've got a potent mixture of danger and human innovation. You'll need cojones of steel to tackle some of these jaw-dropping crossings, while others may inspire a Sunday drive.
They don't call this bridge in the Gilgit Baltistan region the world's most dangerous one for nothing. It was built in the 1960s, is 100 feet high, 635 feet long, and swings from side to side. There are huge gaps between the planks as the Hunza river gushes below this unstable wood and cable structure. And what's left of a previous iteration hangs ominously nearby.
Ojuela is now a ghost town tourist attraction, but it used to be a 19th-century mining settlement. This suspension bridge, also known as Mapimi bridge, is 1,030 feet long. The wooden floor creaks as you make your way across the valley, 327 feet up in the air, and the steel cables visible today used to be wooden ones, which is a rather frightening prospect. The things people do for gold, eh?
We're suckers for gorgeous viaducts over here, and this one with its head in and above the clouds is a particular beauty if you can get past the dizzyingly dangerous heights. It's the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, taller than the Eiffel Tower, and links Montpellier and Paris via the A7F motorway. The viaduct 1,104 feet above the Tarn Valley is relatively new, with construction wrapping up in 2004 after almost two decades of planning and execution. Simply astonishing!
This wooden train bridge in Siberia hovers just 50 feet above the water and will lodge your heart firmly in your mouth. With slippery icy terrain and a narrow, unmaintained bridge to navigate, you'll have your work cut out for you if you cross with a vehicle. A few dozen people have survived to tell the tale on Facebook.
The Royal Gorge Bridge looms over the Arkansas river (90 stories high, to be precise) and was built in 1929. At 1,053 feet, it was the highest in the world until the early 2000s, and it only received stabilizing wind cables in 1982. Today, the suspension bridge lies within a theme park and remains gasp-worthy. Bungee jumpers launch themselves off it, and in 2003 a man in a wingsuit died during a failed skydiving attempt. Unfortunately, it's also been the site of numerous suicides.
You may come across this 24-mile-long bridge between New Orleans and Mandeville—as the longest overwater highway bridge; it's quite the experience. The causeway isn't dangling precariously over a seemingly bottomless gorge, but for eight miles of the journey, there's no land to be seen, which can be harrowing for some. Anxiety-riddled drivers have had to be rescued after stopping abruptly midway through the crossing. Fog and low visibility can also be daunting.
A few months after this bridge opened to the public in 2009, windy conditions caused it to oscillate, setting cars aloft. Some vehicles landed in the opposite lane. Dampers were installed a year later to prevent this issue from reoccurring. Still, it was a hairy situation not soon forgotten by the drivers. The Tacoma Narrows bridge shook similarly just four months after opening in 1940 and wasn't so lucky—it collapsed, but thankfully there were no fatalities.
This concrete trestle bridge in Louisiana is almost 23 miles long, and its piles go 250 feet deep. It covers spooky territory with a Rougarou or Cajun werewolf and a voodoo princess rumored to be haunting the swamp. And if that wasn't enough to worry about, the undeniably real alligators lurking below like hungry trolls should see you breathe a sigh of relief once you've made it to the other side.
A breathtaking engineering feat, the Sidu River suspension bridge in Hubei Province is 1,640 feet high and more than twice as long. It cost approximately $100 million to construct and became the highest bridge in the world in 2009. The Sidu bridge will get your adrenaline pumping whether you're afraid of heights or not.
You'd be forgiven for mistaking this bridge for a rollercoaster ride. Connecting the cities of Matsue and Sakaiminato, the incline is steep enough to get those nerves jangling. What seems like a launchpad to the galaxies is a means for ships to pass by underneath.
Osman Gazi suspension bridge is pretty new, having opened in 2016 over the Gulf of Izmit. It has six lanes and two significant issues to manage—earthquake risks and strong winds. After a 2015 incident where a catwalk broke away from a cable, the Japanese engineer in charge, Kyishi Rioichi, sadly took his life for what he deemed a professional failure. He was the only fatality resulting from the accident.
The one-way Quepos Bridge in Costa Rica had some dramatic monikers, including Oh My God bridge and The Bridge of Death, before floods brought it down in 2010. Those names would not have inspired much confidence, would they? Yet, trucks use similarly rickety structures all the time and all around the world without batting an eyelid. Appearances can be deceptive, and convenience trumps all. Quepos bridge's current replacement is a major improvement.
In Australia's Northern Territory, Cahill's Crossing is an infamous bridge that has caused multiple deaths. It's submerged in waters full of saltwater crocodiles, and many an automobile has succumbed to the water when attempting to cross at the wrong time. The causeway is closed during the wet season between October and April. A 4WD is a must during the dry season in Kakadu National Park.
The Japanese island, Shikoku, near Tokushima, has three vine pedestrian bridges you will view as either an adventure or an accident waiting to happen. The handrails are helpful, but the bamboo is spaced far apart, and the area is remote enough for help to be scarce or difficult to access.
The name of this Tampa Bay bridge is as deceptive as a dolphin's smile. The structure has witnessed multiple tragedies over the decades. In 1980, a freighter collided with a column during a storm, and the bridge collapsed, killing 35 people. Before and after the collapse, more than 200 people killed themselves by jumping off the skyway.
Not far from the village of Gadmen in Switzerland, hikers used to be able to traverse an Alpine valley via a glacier, but global warming has since melted the glacier, and a bridge was first built for the crossing in 2004. You can still see the glacier remnants from the narrow Trift Bridge, and the resulting Lake Triftsee is stunning. This pedestrian suspension bridge lies 300 feet above the lake and is over 500 feet long. It offers spectacular views to anyone brave enough to hike or take a nervous cable car ride up to the intimidating structure.
The living root bridges in the Indian state of Meghalaya inspire awe. They're UNESCO world heritage site contenders, and it's easy to see why as you gaze upon these organic structures that take at least a decade to form and require constant maintenance. The Khasi people who tend these marvels call them jingkieng jri. Aerial roots of the Indian rubber tree grow and wend themselves into the desired shape with the help of the villagers who've learned from elders how to maintain crossings that are centuries old. There are double-decker bridges with parallel spans and even a triple-decker near Pynursla.
If you're heading to Vancouver, you must check out the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is one of the city's symbols. This frequently-visited attraction was constructed in the 19th century and only has cedar log anchors on the ends. It's named for Kia'palano, a Squamish Nation chief. George Grant Mackay, a Scottish engineer, bought the land in 1888 and proceeded to plan a bridge across the canyon to where his cabin was. The bridge was fascinating from the outset, and today tourists appear in droves (there are fairy lights in winter), so go early to skip the busiest time of day.
Mont Blanc is a famous luxury goods company. The mountain that inspired the brand and features in its logo is the tallest in the Alps— it's accessible via Italian or French towns such as Chamonix. Aiguille du Midi bridge will give you an unrivaled view of this legendary massif. You can get to the narrow bridge via a cable car that will test your mettle over the course of half an hour. It's a sharp ascent to Piton Nord, the top station where the fun is just beginning. If you have vertigo, you might want to pass on this thrill.
From certain angles, this cantilever bridge looks like it could be part of an elaborate rollercoaster. It's an optical illusion, though—the bridge doesn't just end abruptly in mid-air. Opened in 1988 along the renowned Atlantic Road, Storseisundet bridge has three spans and is known as "the drunk bridge." The 850-foot bridge gets windy and can be lashed by waves so if you go, exercise caution during bad weather.
Neuschwanstein Castle is known for being one of the inspirations behind Disney's infamous branding. It looks plucked from a fairytale, and tourists love visiting Bavaria to see the palace funded by King Ludwig II. Queen Mary's Bridge, AKA Marienbrücke, is a great place to take photos of the castle. The footbridge was designed by Heinrich Gottfried Gerber and constructed in 1866.
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