The Cochrane-Africatown cable-stayed bridge carries traffic across the Mobile River at Africatown (aka Plateau) and then back to I-10. It is an alternate route for trucks carrying hazardous cargo as they cannot utilize the tunnel on I-10. Africatown was founded by the last group of enslaved Africans to arrive at Mobile Bay in 1860. The Clotilde was owned by Mobile’s Timothy Meaher who hired William Foster of Maine to command the ship (AfricaTown, USA, Library of Congress American Folklife Center). Because the slave trade had been outlawed since 1808, on arrival in Mobile Bay, Foster transferred the enslaved to a riverboat to hide them, burned the schooner and sunk it. The Federal government was aware of the planned illegal trip and brought suit against those responsible. However, it was dismissed in court in 1861. The group of West Africans founded Africatown in 1872, forming their own self-governing community.
The bridge was planned in 1986 after the 1927 Cochrane Bridge was condemned in 1984 and subsequently demolished in 1985. The $32 million contract was awarded in 1985 to the S. J. Groves and Sons Company of Minneapolis (The Montgomery Advertiser, Oct 23, 1985, p. 21). David Volkert was credited in some sources as the bridge designer, and in others Figg Group. Harbert International Inc. of Birmingham was credited as the builder (The Montgomery Advertiser, Aug 30, 1991, p. 19). Harbert took over construction in 1989.
The bridge is 7,291 feet long, cost $68.9 million at completion, and has received state and national awards. It has 3 spans, the length of the largest span is 781 feet (Bridgehunter.com).