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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

O'Neal Bridge - The Shoals, AL (Southern Bluff View)

O'Neal Bridge - The Shoals, AL (Southern Bluff View)

The O'Neal Bridge was built in 1939 to connect automobile traffic between Florence, Al on the north side to Sheffield and Muscle Shoals on the south side. The 2,071 ft. Cantilevered Warren through truss designed bridge crosses the Tennessee River. Highways US43 and US72 use the bridge that connects Lauderdale and Colbert Counties. The bridge was named in honor of Alabama's Father & Son governors Edward A. O'Neal and Emmett O'Neal.

When originally designing the bridge, engineers knew the southern side is on a bluff, and the northern side would need to be raised for the deck to be level. Dirt was excavated from the area to the west of bridge site on the north shore to form a hill, and the resulting empty space became Florence Harbor.

Also, when the bridge was originally completed, there was a pedestrian lane in the middle. The sidewalk leading to the bridge proceeded down a ramp under the bridge, which then ramped back up to an area between the lanes to the walkway. This walking lane was removed in the 80's during a lane widening project, but the access ramp is still there in the south end, although locked.

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