The Most Terrifying Bridge in Alabama Will Put a Pit in Your Stomach
Alabama features 17 major river systems, which interweave across the state. These waterways encompass about 132,000 miles and are one of the most extensive navigable channels in the U.S. That said, there are plenty of unnerving bridges in the state. According to locals, one, in particular, is the most terrifying bridge in Alabama. And it’s not one that you’ll soon forget crossing.
If you’re scared of crossing bridges, you’re not alone. Gephyrophobia, the fear of bridges, is a common anxiety disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. It is related to another common phobia, the fear of heights. What’s worse, it can suddenly affect good drivers who’ve never experienced the phobia before. One day, they drive across a terrifying bridge, start sweating, gripe the wheel tightly, and then develop gephyrophobia. Afterward, all bridges take on a menacing prospect.
Howver, it can be impossible to avoid all bridges, (particularly if you live in Alabama). For those with phobophobia, the fear of being afraid or developing phobias, this terrifying bridge in Alabama may be one you’ll want to avoid.
Old Naheola Bridge
The Old Naheola Bridge is what locals have called the “stuff of nightmares.” Thankfully, the nearby municipality has woken up to the bridge’s utter lack of safety for drivers. The bridge hasn’t seen a car since 2001. However, trains, pedestrians, and barges still use its creaky pathway.
The bridge is located on Alabama Highway 114 near Pennington and carries a throughway across the Tombigbee River. And for those that have yet to infer, prior to its sister bridge being built, it accommodated auto, rail, and river traffic. And it did so on one narrow lane.
If you intended to travel to Choctaw County, which is separated by the river, you would hope your pass encountered no one intending to come to Marengo County simultaneously.
If that wasn’t enough, both sides of the bridge featured short railings about two feet high, where drivers could observe a clear view of the Tombigbee River. And, of course, the perilous mile of distance between the gushing waterway and the bridge.
It doesn’t stand to wonder why the Old Naheola Bridge was only one of the few in the country that featured this one-lane, three-transit design.
For the brave motorists who took this bridge before 2001, their cars would straddle the train rails below. If a barge were making its way through, the middle of the bridge would lift vertically, allowing passage. Which, during a clear day, could be disturbing.
“Traveling across the Naheola bridge was always an exciting ride, and it could be a terrifying experience at times, especially at night when it was foggy or there were icy conditions,” Billy Milstead of RuralSWAlabama.org wrote.
According to Milstead, the bridge featured traffic lights, which intended to show motorists if crossing the bridge was safe. The drawbridge operator controlled the lights and, as it were, everyone’s safety. One mistake and another car would come barreling toward you, a train would bulldoze you, or a barge would lift your car into the air. There are better odds for some drivers.
Insider still rates the Old Naheola Bridge as one of the “Most Hated Bridges in the U.S.” You can still see the bridge when crossing the river. For most drivers, it isn’t much more than a scary reminder of the old days.
Most recently, the I-65 Bridge over US 11 in downtown Birmingham took the award for the most dangerous bridge in Alabama. Although most motorists probably don’t even know it when driving over it. And that’s because the bridge looks like any standard, everyday overpass.
The bridge is in poor condition and structurally deficient. According to WBRC News, since the report in 2017, there wasn’t a timetable for improvements on the bridge.
The I-65 Bridge over US 11 in downtown may indicate that only occasonally the most frightening-looking bridges are ones drivers should be cautious of, like the Old Naheola Bridge. The overpasses and flyovers often look innocuous but do not always receive regular maintenance, which could lead to the more serious problems.
“We know that as a bridge that at one point in the future sooner than later, a lot of bridges will need to be significantly rehabilitated or replaced,” said ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris to WBRC.
So, to avoid the most terrifying bridge in Alabama, look first at the one closest to home.