Cars speed across the Vicksburg Bridge as the last vestiges of sunset fade from the sky.
Sitting side by side in Vicksburg, Mississippi are two bridges, the Vicksburg Bridge and the Old Vicksburg Bridge, which is also known as the Mississippi River Bridge. Located on Interstate 20 and US Route 80, the Vicksburg Bridge is the northernmost crossing of the Mississippi River between Mississippi and Louisiana. Now only a railroad bridge, the Old Vicksburg Bridge built in 1928-30, was in use to carry cars across the river until 1998 when it was replaced by the new bridge.
When the old bridge was open to regular traffic, it was so narrow that a rather unusual system was used to handle the tractor-trailer truck traffic, which used the bridge. There was a pair of railroad styled signal towers located at each end of the bridge that required trucks to stop. Once stopped, the towers would close off traffic for all vehicles in both directions, and then allow trucks to cross the bridge alone, using the full width of both of the narrow lanes. Before they started using the bridge this way, truck drivers would pull the passenger side mirror in and then position their front passenger side tire against a rail located just off the roadway surface. Using this method, trucks could meet and pass each other while traveling east or west. The most unnerving was going east and meeting a train moving westward on the trucks passenger side and another truck westbound on the driver’s side. Semis were only allowed to cross the bridge during daylight hours.
The old bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Copyright 2019 Susan Rissi Tregoning
November 29th, 2019
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