24th Street Viaduct
The 24th Street Viaduct is a road bridge connecting 24th Street South to 24th Street North over the Railroad Reservation, Morris Avenue to the north and 1st Avenue South and what was the Powell Avenue right-of-way to the south. The viaduct carries traffic for U.S. Highway 78. Prior to the completion of the Elton B. Stephens Expressway, it also carried traffic for U.S. Highway 31.
During its history, this span has encompassed two separate bridges, the original was completed in 1926 and the modern replacement completed in 1995.
The Davis Construction Company submitted the low bid of $240,000 to construct a new viaduct at 24th Street in 1925. The 1,400 foot-long bridge was 50 feet wide with a 36-foot roadway flanked by two 6 foot-wide pedestrian ways.
The cost was split with the railroads contributing 65% and the city the remaining 35%. In the end, the cost of the bridge climbed to $330,000.
Work commenced on June 1, 1925 and the completed span was dedicated on July 7, 1926. Mayor Jimmie Jones drove the first car over the new span, carrying Commissioners William Dickson and John H. Taylor, and city engineer A. J. Hawkins to the Southside and back.
New traffic lights were installed at the same time at the intersections of 24th Street with 1st Avenue North and 2nd Avenue North.
By the 1980s, it was becoming apparent the aging bridge would need to be replaced due to its deteriorating state. In November 1993, ALDOT announced it has received a $3.96 million federal grant from the Intermodal Surface and Transportation Efficiency Act to replace the viaduct. Funding from this source encouraged the replacement to be reminiscent of the original structure. In January 1994, the span was closed, and by May, it was completely demolished.
Taking 21 months to complete from the initial closure of the viaduct, on Wednesday, October 18, 1995, at 11:30 a.m., the new span was officially dedicated. In attendance at the ceremony were governor Fob James in addition to officials from ALDOT, the City of Birmingham, Operation New Birmingham and the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce. It was constructed by R.R. Dawson Bridge Company, and was completed three months ahead of schedule.
Costing just under $4 million to complete, the viaduct is 57 feet wide and carries four lanes of traffic. Unlike the original, the 1995 span only has a sidewalk on the western side as opposed to both. Additionally, the new span utilizes lighting fixtures similar to those on the historic Rainbow and 22nd Street viaducts.
As part of its rededication events, on the evening of October 28 the viaduct was closed to traffic for the Viaduct Spook-a-delic Halloween party. The concert event attracted over 7,500 people to the bridge.
- Birmingham Chamber of Commerce (May 1925) "Industrial Activities", Birmingham Vol. 1, No. 2
- "New 24th. St. Viaduct To Be Ready Late Today." (July 7, 1926) Birmingham Post
- Bryant, Walter (November 17, 1993) "Rebuilding of 24th Street bridge will close span for about two years." The Birmingham News
- Faulk, Kent (October 29, 1995) "Viaduct party fun for about 7,500." The Birmingham News