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Park seeks to build longest swinging bridge in North America at Kentucky-Virginia line

Photo: Breaks Interstate Park
Photo: Breaks Interstate Park(WHSV)
Published: Dec. 24, 2019 at 11:40 AM EST
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A state park that borders Kentucky and Virginia wants to build the longest pedestrian swinging bridge in North America.

"It's designed to be 720 feet long, which is the longest swinging bridge in North America," said Austin Bradley, the superintendent for Kentucky's Breaks Interstate Park.

The proposed bridge would cross the Russell Fork river and connect the Virginia and Kentucky sides of the park to each other.

It will be made of steel and wood.

"We actually chose materials for our bridge that will blend into the natural environment," Bradley explained.

Since the park weaves between Kentucky and Virginia, Bradley said investors for the bridge hail from both states.

"On the Kentucky side, we've actually had the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund," Bradley pointed out. "On the Virginia side, we've had the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and the Thompson Charitable Foundation."

A Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority grant of up to $433,000 would help fund the bridge, with an additional $326,000 in funds from other sources earmarked for the bridge.

"So currently, we have about three-quarters of the funding that we need raised for the project," said Bradley. "It's really neat to see all these interstate funders come together."

The grant funds would also go toward other park maintenance and construction.

You will be able to see the bridge from the State Line Overlook, which is "one of the most popular overlooks in the park," according to the superintendent.

He told WHSV's sister station, WYMT, they want to create this bridge for multiple reasons.

"When it's built, it will connect not only the Virginia side of the park with the Kentucky side of the park, but it will also serve as a connector between the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, the Pine Mountain Trail in Kentucky and also this section of Rt. 80 that's adjacent to the bridge site as part of the TransAmerica Bike Trail," Bradley explained.

The Breaks is also a popular place for races.

Two race directors, Next Opportunity Events and 361 Adventures said one of the challenges that they have always faced is finding an easy path to get people from the Virginia side of the park to the Kentucky side.

"This bridge just opens up a lot of opportunities for them in terms of their races," Bradley pointed out.

The Breaks Interstate Park consists of around 5,000 acres and around 25 miles of trail.

Construction is set to start in late 2020 and end in 2021, with the opening scheduled for that spring.