In the second episode of “Discover Austin,” we look at the most recognizable bridge in Austin, the Pennybacker Bridge. New episodes are available each week. Over the course of the series, we’ll cover everything from landmarks and events to restaurants and icons. If you’d prefer to read about the Pennybacker Bridge, the video transcript is below the video.
Greetings, I’m Craig Smyser. In this episode of “Discover Austin,” we take a look at one of the city’s most distinctive images, The Pennybacker Bridge.
The Pennybacker Bridge was named after Percy Pennybacker who was an engineer who designed bridges for the state of Texas around the time of World War II. The bridge intentionally has a rusted, weathered look so that it aesthetically fits in with the surrounding hill country and Lake Austin, which runs below it. It’s an untied, arched suspension bridge, that at the time of it’s construction was only the second of its kind in the world. A key advantage is that there are no pillars or supports in the water itself. The main span of the bridge is 600 feet long and the road deck is 70 feet above the water. Over 600 million pounds of steel were used in construction, it cost ten million dollars to build, and started in the summer of 1980. The bridge opened to traffic about two years later on December 3, 1982. The bridge is also referred to as the 360 Bridge, because Loop 360 is the name of the roadway; which, by the way, isn’t a loop at all. 360 is also known as Capital of Texas Highway so yes, it gets confusing.
The cliffs on the north side are accessible by foot, parking is limited, the trail is not easy, and there are no safety measures at the top, so be sure to use some caution.
The views of both the Pennybacker Bridge and the Austin hill country are spectacular. Thanks for joining me on this episode of “Discover Austin.”