Pennybacker Bridge (TX Loop 360)

The Pennybacker Bridge carries TX Loop 360, also known as the Capital of Texas Highway, across Lake Austin and the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. It is named for Percy Pennybacker who designed bridges for the Texas Highway Department and who was a pioneer in the technology of welded structures.

Construction on the bridge began in late 1979 when the contract was let to Clearwater Constructors of Denver, Colorado. The erection of the steel was completed by Bristol Steel of Bristol, Virginia and was completed by July 1982. The bridge utilized U.S. Steel’s Corten steel which produces a weathered rust finish, and was chosen to have the bridge blend in with the surrounding terrain and rock outcroppings. Over 600 tons of structural steel was used in the superstructure and 3,400 short tons of concrete was used in the bridge deck.1

The four-lane crossing was dedicated on November 29, 1982 by Austin mayor Carole McClellan and opened to traffic on December 3 at a total cost of $10 million. It was the second bridge of its type in the world at the time of its completion. The Pennybacker Bridge received the 1984 Federal Highway Administration’s Excellence in Highway Design award and in 1992, the Austin members of the Consulting Engineers Council of Texas selected the bridge as the most innovative example of Austin architecture.1