Is Puente Leonel Viera a bridge or is it a roller coaster?
You can cross the Maldonado River between Punta del Este and La Barra on it, so that makes it a bridge, right? Many who cross, though, do so at high speed to produce the stomach-dropping feeling you get when you catch "big air" at the humps, so that makes it a roller coaster, right?
The bridge was built in 1965 by Viera, who had no experience in engineering or architecture. He was the first to design a bridge like this, a "stressed ribbon bridge," essentially a suspension bridge but with the suspension cables INSIDE the bridge itself.
Viera created what is now the Punta del Este-to-La Barra span. A second span, now carrying traffic from La Barra to Punta del Este, was added in 1998.
* This is a little dangerous to drive on since motorists speed across to create the roller coaster effect. Be careful.
* The newer bridge, carrying traffic from La Barra to Punta del Este, is said to be the better "roller coaster." It's the one our tour bus driver did his speeding on!