This report is from a roadtrip through southeastern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama on June 17, 2006.

AL 114 at the Tombigbee River (and other AL/MS notes)

Took a trip up to the depths of Marengo County, AL, in order to research what happened to the old AL 114 bridge over the Tombigbee River. According to a recent post by John Sullivan in one of the mailing lists, the old bridge was a combination road/rail span where both the roadway and the rail tracks were on the same deck. Today's quest was to see if that was still the case.

The bridge location sits just upriver of a major Georgia Pacific wood processing facility...indeed it appears that Georgia Pacific is the primary customer for the nearby rail line. Following is a Terraserver image from 1993 showing the full extent of the old combined road/rail operations:

The following link is a 2001 photo that John Sullivan found of the bridge, which prompted his original question about the bridge:

The photo is dated March, 2001. I believe road operations were already detoured by that time...I'm not 100% on that, but I do know that the two times I was in the area in 2000 (I was stationed in Meridian, MS at the time), the bridge was closed and AL 114 traffic was detoured down to the AL 10 bridge.

What I found today is that a brand new bridge has been built for AL 114 traffic, immediately south of the old bridge, and is now open.  Except at the horizontal lift span (the main span over the Tombigbee is a horizontal lift bridge), the old wooden road deck has been completely removed from the approach spans to the old bridge, and these approach spans are now configured for rail operations only. There was a lot of piled up wood on the east side of the river, which looked like it could have come from the old bridge deck.

There is basically nothing left to indicate how the old combined rail/road operations were handled...all I could find for remnants was an old stop bar painted on the old road on the east approach, and a single two-lens signal on the rail part of that same approach. Nothing appears to remain of the old configuration on the west side of the river, but I didn't get a very good look at it there due to the presence of a train on the western trestle. Almost every area on the west side of the river was fenced/gated and signed "No Trespassing".

I did take several photos of the area and plan on posting a page showing the bridges as they exist today. I also sent an e-mail to ALDOT asking when the new bridge opened, when road traffic was closed on the old bridge, and if anyone has old photos showing how the combined road/rail operations were handled on the old bridge.

A few other notes from the day:

- Took photos of more bridges than just the AL 114 span. I now have photographs of all the road crossings of the Tenn-Tom from US 80 south...the idea here being to create a set of pages modeled after the Mississippi River bridge photo pages of John Weeks.

- ALDOT maps suggest that AL 287 is divided highway south of I-65 to where AL 59 picks up the divided highway. In reality, the first mile or so south of I-65 is 5-lane undivided.

- Baldwin County, AL still seems to be the only county in the state that fully signs their county routes...going as far as posting JCT signage and directional banners. A far cry from the other Alabama counties, who generally sign their county routes only sporadically, or in the case of Mobile County, don't bother signing them at all.

- Sometime in the last few months, MDOT opened up US 45 to 4-lanes from south of Waynesboro to about 1 mile north of MS 42.

- Mentioned this last month, but MDOT also opened up about a 7 mile stretch of MS 57 south of State Line to 4-lane traffic. This section still has some paving and reflector work remaining...I imagine MDOT will be finishing the work under traffic, such as traffic is along there (not a whole lot). This segment will be an isolated 4-lane segment until the State Line bypass opens, possibly by the end of the year.

- Another MS 57 note. In McLain, MDOT has rerouted MS 57 onto a new alignment between MS 198 and US 98 that more directly connects to US 98, just west of the Leaf River. The old MS 198 bridge across the Leaf River is no longer open, and the McLain MS 198 no longer exists east of MS 57.

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