General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge

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General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge
General W.K. Wilson Bridge.jpg
The through-arch portion during twilight in 2005.
Coordinates 30°54′51″N 87°57′48″W / 30.91427°N 87.96345°W / 30.91427; -87.96345Coordinates: 30°54′51″N 87°57′48″W / 30.91427°N 87.96345°W / 30.91427; -87.96345
Carries 4 lanes of I‑65
Crosses Mobile-Tensaw River delta
Locale Mobile County / Baldwin County, near Mobile, Alabama
Official name General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge
Other name(s) "Dolly Parton" Bridge
Design dual tied through-arch and beam viaduct
Total length 6.08 miles (10 km)
Longest span 800 feet (244 m)
Clearance below 125 feet (38 m)[1]
Opened 1980

The General W.K. Wilson Jr. Bridge consists of dual parallel tied through arches of weathering steel and beam viaducts of concrete that form one continuous span carrying four lanes of Interstate 65 across the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta northeast of the U.S. city of Mobile, Alabama. Built from 1978 to 1980, it spans a distance of 6.08 miles (10 km) over the delta, making it, along with the Jubilee Parkway across Mobile Bay to its south, among the longest bridges in the nation. It was named in honor of Walter K. Wilson, a Chief of Engineers with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and long-term resident of Mobile.[2] He was credited with being one of the first people recognizing the need to construct a high-level bridge on Interstate 65 over the Mobile River that would not impede waterway development. The state of Alabama named the bridge in his honor after completion of construction in 1978.[3]

Dolly Parton Bridge[edit]

The bridge has red warning lights atop the parallel support arches which, when combined with the shape of the supporting arches when approached from certain directions, have caused the bridge to gain the nickname "The Dolly Parton Bridge".[4]

Two long, low viaducts connect the eastern side of the delta to the main span

May 22, 2014 Fire[edit]

On May 22, 2014 the bridge suffered damage in the northbound portion due to extreme heat caused following an accident involving two semi-trailer trucks. The accident occurred approximately 1-mile (1.6 km) from the arch portion of the bridge. One truck carrying petroleum barrels, stopped due to a previous accident, was rear ended by another truck, with an explosion ensuing. The driver of the tractor which impacted the trailer was killed. The subsequent fire and extreme heat generated caused significant damage to the concrete deck. The bridge was temporarily closed for two days and then reopened to one lane of northbound traffic. The Alabama Department of Transportation estimated it would take several months to replace the top 8 inches of the concrete deck over an unspecified area of the damaged bridge. The two northbound lanes were completely closed during construction, with the two southbound lanes divided into one southbound and one northbound lane.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. Coast Pilot Search". Office of Coast Survey. NOAA. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Naming to the Point of Meaninglessness". "The World Around You". Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  3. ^ "Walter K. Wilson, Jr.". "United States Army Corps of Engineers". Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  4. ^ Burch, Jamie (23 July 2009). "Wreck Shuts Down S.B. I-65 At "Dolly Parton" Bridge". WKRG-TV. Retrieved 22 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "General W.K. Wilson Bridge repairs may take months, Satsuma community helping drivers navigate". Press Register. AL.Com. Retrieved May 30, 2014.