The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge was completed in 1965, and the scaffolding remains a critical depiction of New Mexico’s transportation framework. Governor Jack M. Campbell provided state assets to fund the scaffold’s development after New Mexican political leaders supported a range to connect the Four Corners area to north-eastern New Mexico via an extension of US Highway 64. The 1,280ft. long and 36ft. wide scaffold was once listed in a review as one of the largest appraised spans in the United States in 1987. The extension was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its design and craftsmanship. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge currently has one of the largest steel support decks in New Mexico and is the tenth most elevated scaffold in the United States.
Backstory and Context
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge was built in collaboration with the New Mexico State Highway Department’s Bridge Design Section, American Bridge Company, and J.H. Ryan and Son, Inc. of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The scaffold, built as part of US Route 64, began construction in 1963 and was completed in 1965. The total cost of building the platform was approximately $2.15 million. The total length of the podium is about 1,280 feet long and 36 feet wide. The extension’s foundation comprises two U-shaped substantial projections on spread footings and two piers with notable segments spanning 80 feet from the beginning. The extension consists of three ranges: the focal range (approximately 600ft.) and two 300ft. ranges on each side.
The exact height of the extension from the lower Rio Grande Valley has been in the air since its construction. Still, since the time it was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is said that the scaffold is 650ft. tall, and that number has been used generally for the podium. According to some people and articles, the stand is 600 feet tall. The platform’s deck is made up of a lightweight cement-filled steel network floor. The 36-foot-wide support deck features a 28-foot-wide two-path street, a substantial control, and two four-foot walkways flanking the highway. There are small perceptions decks in the extension, and the walkways are fixed and steel-blocked to keep people safe from the road.
Following WWII, numerous New Mexican political leaders pushed for a bridge that would connect the Four Corners region to north-eastern New Mexico via an extension of US Highway 64. In 1962, Jack M. Campbell, New Mexico’s newly elected legislative leader, provided state bonds to support the extension’s development. Engineers were concerned about developing a plan that would be sufficiently strong to convey the heaps associated with transportation along a government throughway and one that could withstand the high breezes that cleared down the valley while constructing the scaffold. Due to opposition from local sheepherders, the specialists who planned to build the deck with an open framework changed to a lightweight cement-filled matrix during construction. The herders were worried about shepherding their flocks across the scaffold. Engineers were also concerned that visitors would feel awkward looking through the extension’s deck.
When the scaffold was completed, it allowed US Highway 64 to be extended from North Carolina in the east to Shiprock, New Mexico in the west, providing northern New Mexico with its first latitudinal interstate. In 1987, an extension review rated the scaffold as one of the most highly valued spans in the United States. The extension was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 for its deep level of uprightness in its setting, plan, materials, and artistry. On the extension, there is a plaque commemorating the platform’s development and all those who were involved in its creation. The scaffold received a $2.4 million “facelift” in 2012, including replacing the steelwork and adding new drains, slopes, checks, and walkways. Furthermore, another concrete deck surface was installed onto the scaffold. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge currently has one of the most extensive steel support decks in New Mexico and is the tenth most elevated extension in the United States.
The Bridge Design
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is a 1,281-foot (390-meter) long cantilever support structure that towers 600 feet (183 meters) above the Rio Grande River as it flows along the lower part of the crevasse. The steel span configuration features three curved bracket traverses that aid in establishing a continuous steel network with a substantial deck. The two 300-foot (91-meter) end ranges are linked to the primary 600-foot (183-meter) support length and two 40-foot (12-meter) approach range via a tube-shaped pin framework. The even steel individuals of the structure, known as “harmonies,” are supported by vertical steel individuals connected at askew points to shape the supports. The brackets are supported by two 105-ft (32-m) tall piers that sit on and extend 15 ft (4.6 m) beneath the outer layer of magma streams that run 400 ft (122 m) across the ravine floor.
The brackets are steel curves extending down from the extension deck’s highest point to the highest end of the docks, 20 ft (6 m) at the shallowest point in the middle range and 100 ft (30 m) at the most profound focuses. The plan also includes a few passer-by viewing stages that extend a few feet out from the street. The total weight of the design is 2,000 tonnes (1.81 million kg) of steel and 60 tonnes (54,432 kilograms) of bolts. In 2013, regular daily traffic was estimated to be around 600 vehicles, with trucks accounting for 27% of the total.
Jauregui’s group conducted a past investigation of the extension in 2013, about a year after it completed a restoration project by the NMDOT in 2012. As part of the recovery, the top layer of the current substantial deck was removed using a hydro-destruction process that used extremely compressed water and was replaced with a powerful polyester overlay for a more long-lasting surface. Four water-powered jacks, each capable of lifting 600 tonnes (544,320 kg), raised the scaffold, allowing the old steel heading to be removed and a new orientation to be installed. The span projection course and platform orientation were replaced, and the significant segments were balanced out and built up. The project also included repainting the hand railings and installing new walkways, slopes, and drains. Before the recovery, the scaffold was rated as “poor,” “reasonable,” and “agreeable,” with the deck rated as “poor,” the superstructure placed as “reasonable,” and the base rated as “agreeable.” The deck and base condition were rated “great” (seven out of nine) in the 2013 investigation, and the superstructure was rated “reasonable” (five out of nine).