Skip to main content

Natchez-Vidalia Bridge (Natchez, MS)

 

Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and Vicksburg near the city of Natchez, the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge crosses the lower Mississippi River between southwest Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana at the city of Vidalia. This river crossing is a dual span, which creates an interesting visual effect that is atypical on the Mississippi River in general.

Construction on the original bridge took place in the late 1930s in conjunction with a much larger parallel effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen the area’s flood protection and levee system along the Mississippi River. One of the more ambitious aspects of this plan was to relocate the city of Vidalia to a location of higher ground about one mile downriver from the original settlement. The redirection of the river through the Natchez Gorge (which necessitated the relocation of the town) and the reconstruction of the river’s levee system in the area were undertaken in the aftermath of the Great Flood of 1927, which devastated communities and farmland all throughout the Mississippi Delta region. In response to this disaster, the federal government passed the Flood Control Act of 1928, which gave absolute power to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and maintain a flood protection & levee system for the Mississippi River. The elimination of a prominent oxbow bend in the river across from the Natchez Gorge and the associated relocation of the city of Vidalia was one of the largest projects undertaken by the Corps in the 1930s as part of the larger risk-reduction effort along the lower Mississippi River.


The dual spans of the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge reflect 50 years of engineering progress in design and construction of bridges along the lower Mississippi River.

The new bridge connected the new city of Vidalia with the old river town of Natchez when it opened in 1940. Over the years, the bridge became important as a linchpin in the region’s US Highway system, even in the years following the creation of the interstate highway system and the original bridge’s narrow roadway (its travel lanes were reported to be as narrow as 8 ft and the bridge’s roadways lacked shoulders or other safety measures). Traffic demands in the area warranted the construction of a parallel span, which opened to traffic in 1988. Under the current configuration, westbound traffic crosses on the original 1940 bridge while eastbound traffic crosses on the new bridge. The parallel span was built wider than its predecessor and features modern shoulders and standard-width travel lanes. Both spans were built to similar proportions and appear to be identical on first glance. Each structure is about 4,200 ft long from abutment to abutment and they feature steel truss superstructures over ½ mile in length. The four cantilever bridge towers are the focal points that support the three longest spans of the superstructure, each about 850 ft long. The roadways stand upwards of 125 ft above mean river level, making them the tallest bridges in the state of Mississippi.

This bridge is located near a significant crossroads of the US highway system, one of the more robust such locations in the deep south. When the first span of the bridge opened in 1940, it was part of US Highways 65 and 84 and these two highways have been most closely associated with the bridge over the years. As of 2024, the bridge carries US Highways 84 and 425 and is located near prominent intersections with US Highways 61, 65, and 98. US 65 crossed the Mississippi River on this bridge until 2005 when its southern terminus was relocated to Clayton, LA. At around the same time, US 425 was extended eastward over the Mississippi River to end at US 61 in Natchez. US 98 begins at US 61 on the north side of Natchez, a short distance from the eastern bridge approach.

The following photos from my February 2023 visit to the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge showcase various vantage points from the Mississippi Riverfront in Vidalia, LA. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

The following photos from my February 2023 visit to the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge showcase the westbound crossing of the bridge from Natchez, MS to Vidalia, LA. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

The following photos from my February 2023 visit to the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge showcase the eastbound crossing of the bridge from Vidalia, LA to Natchez, MS. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

The following aerial photos from my February 2023 visit to the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge showcase various views of the bridge and its surroundings along the Mississippi River. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

Dashcam video of the westbound drive over the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge was filmed in February 2023 for the 'roadwaywiz' YouTube channel and is available for viewing at the link below:

Dashcam video of the eastbound drive over the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge was filmed in February 2023 for the 'roadwaywiz' YouTube channel and is available for viewing at the link below:

The Natchez-Vidalia Bridge was featured in the "Bridges of the Lower Mississippi River" webinar on the 'roadwaywiz' YouTube channel, beginning at the 1:16:18 mark:

How To Get There:

Further Reading:
Natchez-Vidalia Bridge by John Weeks
Natchez-Vidalia Bridge at historicbridges.org

Bridges, Crossings, and Structures of the Lower Mississippi River
Next Crossing upriver: Vicksburg Bridge (Vicksburg, MS)
Next Crossing downriver: John James Audubon Bridge (New Roads, LA)
Nearby Flood Control Structure: Old River Control Structure (Lettsworth, LA)
Return to the Bridges of the Lower Mississippi River Home Page
__________________________________________________

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California

The historic corridor of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 through the borderlands of southern California share a largely mutual history.  Both highways originated in the city of San Diego and departed the state at the Colorado River into Yuma, Arizona.  Both highways share numerous famous geographical components such as the Mountain Springs Grade and Algodones Sand Dunes.  This article serves as a comprehensive history of the combined US Route 80/Interstate 8 corridor in California from the tolled stage route era of the nineteenth century to the development of the modern freeway.   The blog cover photo features US Route 80 along the Mountains Springs Grade through In-Ko-Pah Gorge during late 1920s.  This photo is part of the Caltrans McCurry Collection. Part 1; the history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California share a largely mutual history.  The backstory of both highways is tied heavily to the corridors of the Old Spanish Trail, Legisl

The Central Freeway of San Francisco (US Route 101)

The Central Freeway is a 1.2-mile elevated limited access corridor in the city of San Francisco.  As presently configured the Central Freeway connects from the end of the Bayshore Freeway to Market Street.  The Central Freeway carries the mainline of northbound US Route 101 from the Bayshore Freeway to Mission Street. The Central Freeway has origins with the establishment of Legislative Route Number 223 and is heavily tied to the history of the once proposed Panhandle Freeway.  The Central Freeway between the Bayshore Freeway and Mission Street was completed during 1955.  The corridor was extended to a one-way couplet located at Turk Street and Golden Gate Avenue in 1959 which served to connect US Route 101 to Van Ness Avenue.  The Central Freeway was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and has since been truncated to Market Street.   The Central Freeway as pictured on the blog cover was featured in the May/June 1959 California Highways & Public Works.  The scan below is fro

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact, the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine w