For the Norfolk and Southern Railroad to cross the Albemarle Sound in the 1880s, it was more efficient to float the entire train instead of unloading the freight onto the barge. In 1910, a five and a half mile bridge was built, making it the longest in the world. This allowed trains to cross the Albemarle in eighteen minutes rather than two and a half hours. By 1986, the seventy-six year old bridge was reaching its limits. Because it cost $19 million to strengthen the supports, the state considered floating the train across the water as it did in the past.