Top 5 Reasons Mobile Alabama Is Great

1. The Cochrane part of the name was from the 60-year-old vertical-lift Cochrane Bridge that was there prior.

2. The Africatown part of the name is from a historic area in north Mobile where the western part of the bridge ends.

3. The original contractor was removed after only 30% of the bridge was completed.

4. The FIGG Bridge Group took over the campaign and worked with the Alabama Department of Transportation to complete it.

5. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina or Ivan came through Mobile, AL, winds pounded an oil drilling rig against the bridge superstructure. It was shortly corrected again by FIGG.

It was on June 14, 1927 - and coincidentally the same year as the New York Yankees "Murderers' Row" was named - that the original Cochrane Bridge was opened in Mobile. The bridge was a vertical lift bridge, which when used with and operated by counterweights, was allowed to level off with the overpass around it. These weights were housed in towers, which required a section of the deck to lift up parallel with the road to the required height necessary for travel. Prior to this about the only way to cross this span was to use wooden bay boats to ferry over passengers and their cargo.

It was a former president of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, John T. Cochrane Sr., that is was originally named for. His name is still used in part in regards to the current bridge, now named the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge, that was built in the former's place in 1991. Before the newer version was made, the old bridge required a toll. The cost to cross for a car was $1, for a large truck, $2, and one thin dime for pedestrians.

Since Africatown is a historic site and sits on Mobile’s African American Heritage Trail, many economic and environment studies were needed to be done, including utility relocations in the project corridor, including major transmission lines for Alabama Power Company, Gulf Oil terminal and storage tanks, and Citmoco Oil terminals and storage tanks.

Since hazardous materials are prohibited in the Bankhead Tunnel in route to downtown Mobile, the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge is a key link for truck traffic. The bridge is also located near the ports, so it is a vital link for cargo traffic passing through Mobile County.

In 2005, a local shipyard was converting an old oil platform into an offshore support center for the oil industry. This platform would act as a parts warehouse, logistics center, and housing that could be deployed out in the Gulf Of Mexico rather than having to come all the way back to the coast for those facilities. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Mobile on August 29, 2005, this platform broke loose, traveled over a mile up the Mobile River against the current, and was blown under the Cochrane-Africatown USA Bridge. The platform past nearly all the way under the bridge, stopping only when a crane on the platform struck the bridge. Damage to the bridge was most cosmetic, including damage to concrete and guard rails, and at least one broken cable stay dampener. The repair also included centering the bridge on its bearing structure, letting one to believe that it must have been knocked off kilter just bit.

Africatown is a settlement in the northeast area of Mobile, and was founded during the Civil War by the last group of Africans to be brought to the US as slaves. The 160 people were brought to the US illegally. While it is unclear if Africatown was ever formally incorporated as a city, the settlement still exists today with a population of 12,000 residents. It is now part of the city of Prichard, Alabama, a suburb of Mobile.