The Scariest Bridge in Texas

Have you ever experienced Gephyrophobia? Gephyrophobia is the clinical term for fear of bridges. The fear that sends a person into anxiety driven tachycardia, palm sweating, breath holding, “I can’t do this” thought reel set on repeat.

Before the Greenville Bridge was completed, a number of people told me they were so afraid of crossing the Benjamin G. Humphreys Bridge (the old bridge) that they wouldn’t cross it. Here it is.

Old greenville MS bridge

With its narrow two lanes, it wasn’t my favorite place to be but I crossed the bridge to get to the other side.

No Gephyrophobia for me.

Until I came across this. (Cue the music for the Price is Right’s Cliffhanger game. I heard yodeling.)

Rainbow Bridge, Bridge City Texas, Gephyrophobia, tall bridge, bridge anxiety

Let me introduce you to Rainbow Bridge. This scary bridge is in Bridge City, Texas on State Highway 87. I was on my way to Port Arthur and had to cross this bridge to get to my destination. What in the world?

They made this cantilever bridge to accommodate the tallest naval vessel at the time…because Galveston or New Orleans wouldn’t be options for a huge naval vessel to navigate?

I’m speculating here, but do you think they said, “Just make it big. Ah, heck y’all, make it Texas big.”

As I approached the landing, I considered escaping this 5 percent grade to the 230 ft. tall bridge (176 ft. water clearance) by means of the convenient turn around road at the base.

Half way up, the bridge didn’t seem as scary as it did at first glance in the horizon.

Reaching the crest, I released the death grip from my steering wheel, took a breath (Had I been holding my breath? Yes, I had.) and was determined to glance at the body of water below, the Neches River.

“Oh, this is one impressive bridge for this river. What am I doing? I must concentrate…and breathe.”

So now I had a glimpse of what those people were feeling about the old Greenville bridge. They would have hyperventilated over this. Rainbow bridge is Gephyrophobia worthy.

Have you every been over Rainbow Bridge? Is there another bridge out there that you’d rather avoid? How do you handle the anxiety?

 

68 comments

  1. ginagina says:

    Thom’s ex wife has a fear of crossing bridges! I had never even heard of such a fear. I don’t think I’d be scared unless it was a REALLY windy day 🙂

    • Delta Moxie says:

      ginagina, Me neither. But I can see why, now. I don’t have a fear of all bridges just the ones that look like I may fall off the other side. I didn’t understand the fear until the I had to cross Rainbow Bridge. I cross over the Mississippi River several times a day and I had never experienced that feeling I had. Thanks for stopping by! How are you? Will you be at Arkansas Women Bloggers? I hope so!

      • John Wright says:

        You should have crossed it when it was still two way traffic on it before they built the Veterans Momerial Bridge beside it.
        It was known then as the deadliest Bridge in the South.

        • Andrew says:

          It was also redecked (and widened) once Veterans was completed. So it was two-way traffic and narrower than it is now.

    • Wendell says:

      You probably don’t realize that it use to be a one lane each way. While it didn’t seem bad , try it at night with a 18!wheeler heading at you in what appears to be your lane not fun

      • Shaysay says:

        Oh I remember. I remember the two way bridge all too well. The new bridge doesn’t phase me, the original bridge I fight NOT to give in to a panic attack.

  2. Lisa says:

    The Sunshine Skyway bridge always gave me the heebijeebies but I couldn’t figure out why until my mom told me my aunt used to take me over it on her motorcycle when I was very small. I’m assuming I blocked out those memories in favor of general terror. I still get weirded out on bridges sometimes.

    • Delta Moxie says:

      Lisa, I can’t believe your aunt hauled you on the back of a motorcycle across a big, scary bridge as a child. What an experience! And what’s up with the cutesy names of these bridges? Sunshine Skyway and Rainbow Bridge? They aren’t fooling anyone. Right?

      • Lisa says:

        In her defense she was also the one who took me to clown school at Ringling Bros, taught me that the best time to ride my bike in the summer is in the rain & let me play her organ whenever I visited. I forgive the bridge incident.

  3. Sara says:

    Googled the bridge and found this post! I’m from Little Rock but my dad grew up in Port Neches, so I had been over the old bridge sometime as a kid and remember hating it. I was visiting this past weekend and thought my partner would enjoy seeing the bridge and that somehow I would have the courage to drive it, despite my severe fear of heights (what was I thinking?!). I got within sight of it and had to take the exit. I literally had to pull over because I was about to pass out just from the thought of driving over it. Nice to know I’m not alone!

    • Delta Moxie says:

      Sara, I googled that bridge as well! Glad you found me and my post. And how cool is it that you are from Little Rock? I don’t know if my reaction to that bridge would be the same if I were a passenger…because I’d close my eyes. I’m proud of you for facing your fear. Even though you didn’t go over it, you stepped up. You’ll have to try it again sometime, preferably when there are no other cars. Know that there is another side to that bridge even though it doesn’t look like it. I still can’t believe they built that bridge so tall. Thanks for your comment! Let me know if you ever cross it…I’ll do a little celebration dance in your honor. In the meantime, thank goodness for those exits!

    • Kim says:

      Sara, I was born and raised in Port Neches. When we were in high school and we still had drivers ed offered to us at the school, they used to have us drive over the Rainbow Bridge.

      • Yayaa says:

        Yes!!!! I took drivers Ed and had to drive over this bridge when it was the only bridge with traffic going both ways in the RAIN! No, in a freaking storm!!!

  4. Michelle says:

    Wow I am so glad to know that I am not alone. I have a severe phobia of crossing high bridges. I have pulled to the side of the road just before crossing it because I would see spots as if I were going to pass out. Nope this rollercoaster bridge is not for me.

  5. jlsdavis says:

    i grew up in west orange tx. To get our drivers license we had to parallel park and drive OVER this bridge. Fog, bridge, state trooper beside me, no stress….I hated this bridge Because of the steep grade. You felt like you had to get a running start. Lol. when there were wrecks they had to back the cars down. Orange at the time was a mothball fleet storage for all the warships ex navy base. So they had to clear this bridge to mothball them. Lots of crabs due to all the old ships anchored there.

    • Delta Moxie says:

      jlsdavis, I can’t imagine having to tackle the bridge on my driver’s license test. I understand the need to get a runner start! You can do anything if you drove over that bridge at an early age! Interesting history. Thanks for sharing that information.

  6. marina says:

    back when i was a teen they took students over the rainbow bridge for driver’s ed…..(fortunately we moved before my time but my sister had to do it)

    • Delta Moxie says:

      marina, I’m hearing that driving over this bridge is part of the driver’s license test! Lucky you moved before you had to conquer that beast! Thanks for sharing!

      • Lisa says:

        I’ m from Bridge City. I drove over the Rainbow bridge during drivers ed (1980). It was me, another student and a high school coach as my instructor. I have a cousin that will not drive over it. She has family members drive for her.

  7. Glenda says:

    Well, today I cried and hubby decided not to go over the bridge but instead to take the interstate. Met a young man at breakfast who told us that he had to drive over the bridge for driver’s ed. I would’ve never gotten a license. The bridge itself isn’t the problem…it’s the steepness of the grade. It makes me think of falling over backwards. Glad to know I’m not the only one. I’ve laughed at some of these comments…it helps to have kindred spirits out there!

    • Delta Moxie says:

      Oh, Glenda! I’m sorry you cried. It can appear terrifying for sure. It’s the steepness that scared me as well. The day I drove over it, I was running late for a very important appointment and had no choice but to cross it. I saw other cars go over and noticed I didn’t notice any fall backwards or plunge into the river below once they crested the top so I went for it. What kind of sick person adds crossing that bridge into a driver’s license test? Maybe they are preparing those drivers for possible emergencies like escaping from hurricanes. Thanks for sharing your comment! Know you are not alone!

    • Kerri says:

      He must have had my dad for Drivers Ed. He took all the kids over the bridge. “Once you do it, you know you can. Everyone needs to know they can!” We moved away by the time I took driver’s Ed. But, guess where he planned a little driving experience for me? Yep! The bridge. I can drive over it, but I hate it. WHen I was a little girl, and the bridge was only 2 lanes, we were stuck at a standstill at the top. Some poor soul had jumped. I hid in the floorboard and cried because the wind was swaying the bridge.

  8. Sarah says:

    I live in Bridge City and used to drive over this bridge every morning! Luckily I work “on the island” now, as I like to say, but my husband still makes the daily drive over it. Right now they’re sandblasting and painting it, so it’s down to one lane, which is completely nerve wracking. It reminds me of when it used to be a two-way bridge! Talk about terrifying. Now the only times it really freaks me out are in bad weather, strong winds, or when there are traffic problems and I get stuck on the bridge. There have also been a handful of incidents where someone has driven the wrong way up the bridge (keeping in mind it used to be two-way, some people forget it’s not anymore), causing a collision or traffic jams at the least, so there’s always that potential too. For those who have a fear of bridges, it’s definitely warranted with this one!

    Fun fact: The town of Bridge City was originally named Prarieview, but changed its name after the bridge was built.

    Post script: I found this site while looking for pictures of the bridge, to share on a FB post that I saw about the “Bridge of Fear” in Japan and described it as the scariest bridge. <– nope, pretty sure ours has that title! LOL! And I love this comment, by the way: "Just make it big. Ah, heck y'all, make it Texas big.". Pretty much, lol.

    Thanks for sharing your stories about the Rainbow Bridge! 🙂

    • Delta Moxie says:

      Sarah, your poor husband! One lane? Good gravy. How in the world could someone go on that bridge the wrong way? There are signs everywhere and I’d definitely take a celebratory mental note that, “Oh, this bridge is thankfully one way now.” Bad weather and strong winds would scare me for sure. What if traffic is stuck during that situation?

      Thanks for the Fun Fact! The name Prarieview didn’t have a chance after that bridge!

      Oh, I’ve got to go look at that Japanese bridge! Thanks for sharing your experiences and your comment! 🙂

    • Pam says:

      I grew up in Groves Texas. The first and last time I drove over that bridge I was 20 years old. I did not think I was going to make it. I have extreme fear of heights and I experienced everything from my plans sweating to shortness of breath. I just wanted to close my eyes. I hate brides and that is one scary bridge. I now live in Amarillo Texas. This is one ugly place but I am thankful there are no bridges

  9. Joe says:

    Chesapeake bay bridge Annapolis Maryland. Scared me so bad I wouldn’t cross it for the return trip. I drove almost to Philly to stay off of it.

    • Delta Moxie says:

      Joe, I haven’t had the opportunity to face the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, but if I do…I’ll be thinking of you now. I’m going to google it. Thanks for sharing your scary bridge experience.

  10. Jerry Faulk says:

    I was born and raised in Port Arthur, Tx. Crossed this bridge all the time. It was originally a two lane bridge (1 eastbound lane, 1 westbound lane). When you took your drivers test they had you drive over the bridge. I think it was something like a rite of passage. I don’t believe it had anything to do with whether you passed or not, maybe. LOL

  11. Bobby says:

    Another fun fact from a Bridge City native: in the early 90s, they actually widened the bridge. Over 25 years ago, it was narrower and two-way. There was literally no shoulder. Now, the bridge is one way, westbound. The Memorial Bridge is eastbound

  12. Dianne Doyle says:

    You guys are so funny. It is just a road to me – that rises up a bit, but no big deal. I am 70 years old and don’t give it a thought. Take a deep breath if you have to, or say a prayer if you feel the need. I just drive. Period.

  13. Robert Crane says:

    Try working as PD/FD/EMS on a traffic accident at the top without stopping traffic. You can feel the bridge bounce when people drive by. But the view of the sunrise can’t be beat.

  14. Candace says:

    I grew up in the area and never had the chance to drive it myself until about 10 years ago. Now, let me set this up for you.

    A tropical storm is coming in and I was working in one of the refineries. Well, they let us go last min. I say last min even though the storm was already there. Hahahahahaha! Anyways, I am driving my parents van, in this storm with a trash bag covering the passenger window because the window got knocked out.

    It is safe to say, I can now handle anything. Hahahahahaha!

  15. Mitch Hidalgo says:

    I live in Bridge City Texas, and did you know that it was, at one time, two way traffic over it!! I passed my driving test, in a 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis, TWO WAY TRAFFIC!! About 6 inches of clearance between mirrors!!

  16. Rustina Sams says:

    My first time over it my husband was playing tour guide, “and look over there and you can see…” I cried I was so scared. He was so nonchalant taking in the view. I have driven it many times now in my 7 plus years in Port Arthur. Still am not fond of it, especially on windy days, but I do much better now.

  17. Natalie Welsh says:

    This bridge used to be two lanes with 1 lane each way and no divider. Now THAT was scary! The bridge on the left in your first picture was built in the early 90s, I believe. They held a dedication ceremony where people could walk on it before it officially opened.

  18. Savannah says:

    I live in Bridge City as well. Since its down to one lane while they’re sandblasting, the morning traffic is insane! Imagine being at a dead stop on the very top of this bridge not moving. It happens daily here!

  19. Nicole says:

    Fun fact about the Rainbow Bridge. It was the tallest bridge west of the Mississippi for decades. I’m not sure which bridge is now. I’ve been stuck on it, driven when it was opposite directions, driven over it in fog, torrential rain (which happens all the time), frozen over with ice, down to one lane, had to reverse down due to a wreck or weather, and even been taken to the top on a motorcycle. We stopped up there so we could feel the sway of the bridge. It moves constantly. It did indeed used to be part of every drivers ed class in the whole region. It was just a fact of life. Eventually you’re going to have to cross it so you might as well start as soon as possible. All the refineries are on the other side of that bridge so literally hundreds of people cross it daily. It’s a nightmare in the early morning because of the traffic jams. A friend’s father climbed over the side and under it to take photos of the new bridge for the paper. He had to call it the police and the coast guard so they wouldn’t think he was trying to jump! There have been jumpers over the years and believe it or not, quite a few survivors! They say it’s like hitting concrete. Crazy stuff but it’s just part of life in the good ole Golden Triangle! 🙂

  20. Wayne Peveto says:

    I drove over that bridge with ease for 10 years; sometimes twice a day. One day I had an anxiety attack and tunnel vision set in. I felt like I was going to pass out. I was 24 then. I’m 33 now and still won’t drive over the Rainbow Bridge. Funny thing is, I’m not scared of heights. I’m fine in the passenger seat. I’d get out and walk around up there. I’m an electrician and I work at heights greater than 176 ft.. it’s gotten worse over the years. Now other bridges are starting to affect me.

    • Sharon Vandiver says:

      At the top of the Rainbow Bridge is where I had my first panic attack…I was 22 ish and I am 64 now and have not driven over it since.

  21. Caitlin Lee Rogers says:

    Been over Greenville bridge before no issues. Drive over rainbow bridge so much and I’m so deathly scared of it. It’s down to one lane right now. I can’t stand having to go that way at all HATE it.

  22. bunnycantclimb says:

    I drive over this every day to work, and I’m TERRIFIED of heights. Seriously, I don’t even climb ladders. It took everything in me to take this job, since I knew I’d be driving the bridge every day. Now, I’m used to it. I will actually look off the side when crossing it. However, I do keep a VERY safe distance between myself and whatever car is in front of me. The thought of wrecking on that bridge is AWFUL. Not to mention, a couple years ago, the bridge was hit by a barge, and all I can think of (at times) is that a barge hit the bridge, and we’re all still driving over it, creating these tiny vibrations that could possibly be whittling away at the structure. No big deal right?

  23. Veronica Barajas says:

    I live in Port Arthur and worked in Orange, TX so crossing this bridge was a daily routine for me. After awhile you get used to it, even passing on the bridge. What helps is that this bridge is now just a one-way 2 lane bridge. Back in my parents day, Rainbow bridge was coming and going. Talk about frightening. I was just a kid and a passenger, but I would shut my eyes tight until we were over it.

  24. Robby Watson says:

    I was 16 and in driver’s ed the first time I drove over..coach Gilmore was either a brave man or a fool to coax us kids over the Rainbow Bridge….I am 44 now and still hold my breath going over…I don’t drive it every day but I have to make a run through Bridge City on my way to Beaumont…I will try to breathe on my way up this time..btw it is being repainted at this time, so imagine the anxiety for those guys

  25. Shae says:

    I drive the Rainbow Bridge everyday to work. Right now it is down to one lane due to painting. As a previous poster said, it use to be a 2 way bridge. I can remember driving it for drivers Ed. My 12 yr old hates it. I had a scary moment once, looked over on my passenger door and saw a spider (2-3 inches) just as I created the bridge. Needless to say I kept an eye on it the whole way down.

  26. Lloyd Ravey says:

    I grew up im Port Neches and had an Aunt who lived at the marina that used to be at the base of the bridge. That was in the early 70s. The bridge was 2 way back then with a narrow (2′) walkway for pedestrians. My brother, cousins and I would walk up that bridge just for the view. We have even pushed our bycicles to the top and raced them down. Yes, we were young and dumb back then!

  27. Sharon Vandiver says:

    Used to be a part of our driver’s ed class…a requirement! By the way, next time you gave to get from Bridge City to Pt. Arthur you can go through Beaumont and the bridge that way is nothing compared to this!

  28. Angela says:

    It’s not near as bad as it used to be, and I was terrorized of any bridge when I was younger. I’ll never forget the first time I drove on it. Hard to believe that nowadays it’s just part of living in the area.

    We used to tell the kids to close their eyes and pretend like we were flying when we crossed it. I’ve since had a chance to play the same game with the grandkids. Happy memories.

  29. josh says:

    I live in bridge city texas my job is just on the other side of this bridge u can see it from the top as of 2015 they have one lane completely shut down for repairs many wrecks because of it. And long ago whrn i was a kid it was a two way bridge on going and out going traffic think on that one hahah. But i make this drive every day up this bridge never scared of doing it even in high 50 to 70 mph winds ive even done some major dare devil stuff on it when i was yonger hitting 170 in my old shelby gt500 going up the bridge every day thats right everyday i would top my care out going 170 mph up and down that bridge going to work. When u just come off that bridge at that speed u can feel 2gs of force pushing u and the car down crazy stuff far as i know im the only one that has gone that fast and much faster than that up that bridge just for fun im a crazy person i know

  30. Brandon says:

    I went through my summer driving back in 93, and had to drive over the Rainbow Bridge when it had both directions of traffic. It was scary to look at, but I made it. One of the other students I was driving with refused… Didn’t affect them passing, but it made me a little worried about sharing the road with them.

  31. Kathy Ross says:

    My daughter and granddaughter thought it would be funny, knowing how afraid of heights I am to take me across this bridge when we were visiting relatives who live nearby. I have never been so scared in all my life. It was down to one lane because of construction. So we had to drive in the outside lane and the guard rails are only like TWO feet high. It felt like at any minute we were going to plunge to our deaths! I was almost in tears by the time we were off that thing.

  32. Chad says:

    Go over the suspended bridge at Royal Gorge National Park in Colorado. The wooden planks bounce up and down when cars drive over it or you can walk across. If the wind picks up the bridge starts swaying.

  33. Michael Jeter says:

    I saw this on FB and like everyone else I had to do this in drivers ed too. When they had built the new bridge, they were doing construction on the old one and me and some guys for his bachelor party played some wiffle ball and we decided to go and walk over the old bridge….it was fun and scary especially when we had to jump over a space in it…..but that was a memory I will never forget….just a bunch of college age kids doing something we had always wanted to do and had the chance to do it…..ty for the memories 🙂

  34. Sharron says:

    I used to drive over this bridge at least twice a day from home to work. It was two-way traffic back in those days and I sat on it for hours a few times because of wrecks, waiting for them to clear the cars and let the traffic through again. It’s much better now that it’s only one-way traffic, although this summer it was down to one lane due to bridge repair. It was a little unnerving to reach the top of the bridge and see a huge hole in the pavement between the construction equipment!

  35. Karen Padon says:

    I grew up in Orange/Bridge City. My grandfather was a Chief Engineer on an ExxonMobil Ship out at sea 6 months, home 6 months. He had s Shrimp boat, the Maggie G. named after his mother. It was docked under the Rainbow Bridge before the new one was built. We crossed this bridge all the time to go to the shrimp boat or the bar under it. My parents and grandparents drank and danced while we ran up and down the pier playing. My team at work is now installing 4 LNG trains (gas turbine + compressors) under this bridge known as Sabine Pass LNG (Liquifaction Natural Gas). 2 more trains across the way in Cameron, LA known as Cameron LNG project. It’s very different now under the bridge, but I tell the men I work with that are installing our equipment my stories growing up there. They eat hamburgers for lunch in the bar. I can’t wait to go to the job site for a tour. I am excited to see how much it’s changed and have the memories flowing through my mind. I used to get down in the floor board of the car! It was scarey! But, I wanted to get to that shrimp boat and bar! My uncle used to take me crabbing under the bridge. We would catch so many crabs they filled up the entire John boat. I had to keep my feet up. We always had lots of shrimp gumbo when my grandfather came back in with a boat full of shrimp. Once he brought back all oysters and they poured the huge pile out in the driveway, iced them down and sat there cracking them open, drinking beer and listening to coon-ass music. This bridge was a huge part of my childhood. I’m excited to go soon to see the jobsites on both sides from the top of it!

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