Talmadge Memorial Bridge

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Talmadge Memorial Bridge
Army Under Secretary visits Savannah Port (9677873671).jpg
Coordinates32°5′20.67″N 81°5′55.68″W / 32.0890750°N 81.0988000°W / 32.0890750; -81.0988000
Carries US 17 / SR 404 Spur
CrossesSavannah River
LocaleSavannah, Georgia
Official nameEugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge
Other name(s)Savannah Bridge[1]
Maintained byGeorgia Department of Transportation
Designcable-stayed bridge
Total length1.9 miles (3.06 km)
Longest span1,100 feet (335 m)
Clearance below185 feet
OpenedNovember 1991
Talmadge Bridge.jpg

The Talmadge Memorial Bridge is a bridge in the United States spanning the Savannah River between downtown Savannah, Georgia and Hutchinson Island. It carries US 17/SR 404 Spur. The original bridge was built in 1953; a replacement bridge was completed in 1991, also referred to as the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.


The original Talmadge bridge was a cantilever truss bridge built in 1953. It eventually became a danger for large ships entering the Port of Savannah, home to the largest single ocean container terminal on the U.S. eastern seaboard, and the nation's fourth-busiest seaport. A replacement better able to not impede maritime traffic was completed in March 1991. The new Talmadge Memorial bridge is a cable-stayed bridge.


Shipping under the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. Piers (vertical supports) of the original 1953 bridge still stand and can be seen in this.

The structure is dedicated to Eugene Talmadge, who served as the Democratic Governor of Georgia in 1933-37 and 1941–43.

The replacement bridge was originally suggested to be named for the Native American Creek leader Tomochichi, an important figure in Savannah's founding in 1733. After public forums on the issue, the original name was restored for the new structure.

Proposals for renaming[edit]

Talmadge was an old-school conservative Southern Democrat, who pursued then-popular and openly racist objectives such as restoring the white primary and enforcing segregation of the state universities. He also struck out against opposing centers of power, using martial law to dismiss state boards that opposed his measures as well as arrest both strikers and strikebreakers alike, actions which led to him both being accused of being a dictator as well as being a friend of the "common man." Talmadge's legacy has caused some in Savannah to oppose letting him have the prominent honor of the bridge named for him, including Savannah's City Council. However, renaming the bridge is decided at the state level by the legislature, where there is considerably more sympathy for Talmadge.

In September 2017, Savannah City Council passed a resolution to rename the bridge the "Savannah Bridge". A state representative said, "It's time to move forward on a bridge that reminds us of segregation and not solidarity and a name that connects to hate and not hope." It is ultimately up to the Georgia state government to confirm the passed resolution.[2] Another proposal, pushed by the Girl Scouts, is to rename the bridge after Juliette Gordon Low, a Savannah native who founded the Girl Scouts.[3][4] One argument that the pro-renaming faction has raised is that the 1991 bridge may never have actually been formally named at all in the records, meaning it was never the Talmadge Memorial Bridge to begin with.[3]


A ship passing under the bridge.

The new bridge provides 185 feet (56 m) of vertical navigational clearance for oceangoing vessels. Its horizontal clearance is 1,023 feet (312 m), with both main piers located on the north and south banks of the Savannah River. With a main span of 1,100 feet (340 m) and a total length of 1.9 miles (3.1 km), the new Talmadge Memorial carries four lanes of traffic.[5] The north end of the bridge ends on Hutchinson Island, an island situated between the Savannah River and the Back River. A separate, older, two-lane bridge spans Back River, connecting Hutchinson Island with Jasper County, South Carolina.

Comparison with Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and the Sidney Lanier Bridge[edit]

Tugboat in front of the bridge

The proximity and rivalry between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah and Brunswick often lead to comparisons between the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the Sidney Lanier Bridge, and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, all of which carry US 17.[citation needed] Completed in 2005, the clearance under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is actually only 1 foot (0.30 m) taller than both the Sidney Lanier Bridge and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge. Unlike the Sidney Lanier Bridge and the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, however, the Ravenel Bridge has eight travel lanes; the Talmadge and the Sidney Lanier both have just four lanes. The Ravenel also features a dedicated bike/pedestrian lane. The Talmadge Memorial Bridge also has a similar design as the Alex Fraser Bridge in Vancouver, Canada.

As for the span of the three bridges, The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is 1,546 feet (471 m). The Sidney Lanier Bridge is 1,250 feet (380 m). The Talmadge Memorial Bridge is 1,100 feet (340 m).

As for the total length of the three bridges, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is 13,200 feet (4.0 km). The Sidney Lanier Bridge is 7,779 feet (2,371 m). The Talmadge Memorial Bridge is 10,032 feet (3.058 km), or 1.9 miles (3.1 km).

Replacement considerations[edit]

Savannah is currently undergoing expansion, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), so the port can accommodate newer, larger vessels.[6] In September 2018, Savannah Now reported officials thought the Talmadge Bridge may need to be replaced if the port was to service Neo-Panamax vessels.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bentley, Rosalind (July 20, 2018). "Report on Atlanta's Confederate symbols on hold for now". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  2. ^ Klugh, David (September 28, 2017). "Talmadge Bridge rename now in state's hands". WTOC-TV. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Blinder, Alan (February 4, 2018). "What It May Take to Strike a Segregationist's Name From a Georgia Bridge: Hundreds of Girl Scouts". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Curl, Eric (January 23, 2018). "'Anything but Talmadge': Legislators want Savannah bridge renamed for Juliette Gordon Low". Savannah Morning News.
  5. ^ "Georgia @ SouthEastRoadss - U.S. Highway 17". SouthEastRoads.com.
  6. ^ "Savannah Harbor Expansion". US Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Komanecky, DeAnn (September 20, 2018). "Savannah's Talmadge Bridge may need replacement for bigger ships". Savannah Now. Retrieved November 20, 2018. A portion of GPA’s plans include a goal of doubling the container capacity of the Garden City Terminal and the possible replacement of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge that spans the Savannah River.

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