The Red River and the Bridges at Alexandria-Pineville Louisiana
Red River, looking west towards downtown Alexandria, Louisiana
The Red River of the South meanders 1,360 miles through Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana before empting into the Mississippi River.
It forms the border between Texas and Oklahoma for significant distances.
The Red River has played key roles in Alexandria and Pineville through the decades, and centuries, through peaceful times and through the Civil War, through low stages of the river, and in floods.
A series of locks and dam built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have made the Red River navigable through Alexandria.
Historic Red River Water Level Records at Alexandria
Flood Categories (in feet) at Alexandria (Courtesy of NOAA/NWS):
Major Flood Stage: 40
Moderate Flood Stage: 36
Flood Stage: 32
Action Stage: 28
Historic Crests of the Red River in Alexandria:
(1) 45.23 ft on 04/17/1945
(2) 43.65 ft on 02/05/1932
(3) 42.35 ft on 05/08/1927
(4) 42.05 ft on 05/19/1953
(5) 41.84 ft on 07/06/1908
(1) 38.32 ft on 03/19/2016
(2) 36.10 ft on 06/16/2015
Low Water Records at Alexandria:
(1) -3.90 ft on 10/13/1985
(2) -3.70 ft on 09/29/1981
(3) -3.30 ft on 09/25/1996
Current Red River Levels and Flood Predicitons for Alexandria (Courtesy of US Department of Commerce - NOAA)
Read more about the Red River stages at Alexandria from NOAA/National Weather Service
Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge
Artist drawing of the new Curtis-Coleman Bridge over the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana
Work on the new 4-lane Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge to replace the old O.K. Allen Bridge began in early 2011.
The first two-lane span opened to traffic on March 17, 2015, and the second span opened on May 24, 2016.
In addition to the river crossing at Fort Buhlow, the project has nearly 8,000 feet of four-lane divided roadway on the Pineville side of the river, with connections to several major local streets on the Pineville side.
The new bridges each have a minimum 40-foot clear roadway width and carry two lanes of traffic. The main channel of the Red River is bridged by a continuous steel girder unit consisting of spans of 300 feet, 400 feet and 300 feet for a total length of 1,000 feet.
The new steel spans are built of weathering steel which does not require painting. The approach spans are constructed using 72” deep Bulb-T pre-stressed pre-cast concrete girders with the total length of bridge being 3,015 feet.
Included in the project is a 1,220-foot long bridge crossing the Kansas City Southern Railroad in front of "Rebel Hill" by Pineville High School's football stadium.
Murray Street Bridge over the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana
This includes new interchanges for better access to the Pineville Municipal Airport and Red River Waterway Recreation area.
The new bridge was originally named the Fort Buhlow Bridge by DOTD. However, in the 2014 Louisiana Legislative session, a bill was passed to rename the bridge after two local Pineville civic leaders, Lemon Coleman and the late Israel "Bo" Curtis.
Murray Street Bridge
This narrow, two-lane steel truss swing bridge was the first significant bridge across the Red River in Alexandria and Pineville. It was nearly submerged during some floods of the river, and was demolished in 1983.
The approach on the Alexandria side next to the old Rapides Bank & Trust Company was turned into a river overlook as part of the Alexandria Levee Park.
O.K. Allen Bridge
O.K. Allen Bridge
Construction of the two-lane K-truss type O. K. Allen Bridge between Alexandria and Pineville was completed in 1936, and named after Governor Oscar Kelley Allen, the 42nd Governor of Louisiana.
The length of the main span was an impressive 500 feet, and the total bridge length was 1,919.4 feet
Over the decades traffic levels have increased, to an average count of over 36,000 by 2010. The increased traffic, coupled with the bridge's narrow lanes, low vertical clearance, lack of shoulders, and age led to the decision by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DOTD) to replace the structure with the 4-lane Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge in 2016.
The O.K. Allen Bridge bridge was imploded on Septmber 26, 2015.
O.K. Allen Bridge Demolition Video
Alexander Fulton Bridge over the Red River
Alexander Fulton Bridge
This four-lane steel vertical-lift bridge was named after Fulton Street in Alexandria, which it connected with Highway 167. Alexander Fulton is credited with founding the City of Alexandria in 1805.
Built as part of the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway, it was located just south of downtown Alexandia, and connected with the Fulton Street underpass under the railroad tracks along Tenth Street.
The bridge was demolished in 1994 and replaced by the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge.
Gillis Long Bridge (aka Jackson Street Bridge)
Gillis Long Bridge, Alexandria - Pineville, Louisiana
This two-lane vertical-lift bridge with a sidewalk/bikepath on either side connects Main Street in downtown Pineville with the business district in Alexandria at Jackson Street.
The bridge is named after U.S. Representative Gillis Long, who represented Louisiana's Eighth Congressional District.
It was built in 1985 to replace the aging Murray Street Bridge.
Purple Heart Memorial Bridge
Purple Heart Memorial Bridge
Built as part of the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway (Cottingham Expressway), this bridge connects Interstate Highway I-49 to Highway 167 by crossing the Red River from downtown Alexandria to Pineville.
It replaced the Alexander Fulton Bridge and features six lanes of traffic.
Designed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD), the bridge cost $15.9 million in federal and state funds.
Cowboy legend Roy Rogers on the Red River in Alexandria ... click to read the story
The northbound portion was completed in 1995, the southbound in 1998.
And of course there was the day Roy Rogers drove his Yellow Jacket boat down the river to Alexandria and stayed at the Hotel Bentley.
Historic Photographs of Red River Flooding in Alexandria LA
This photo was taken between 1905 and 1910 and shows Alexandria and the Red River at flood crest.
The view is looking south along the Red River at Alexandria. Water Street or Front street is seen clearly on the right as well as a number of unidentified buildings.
Photo courtesy of the Louisiana History Museum
Photographs of the Red River Bridges in Alexandria
Bridge construction, with the old O.K. Allen Bridge in the background (2012)
(photo courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
The Last Day of the Murray Street Bridge, 1984
Looking east towards Pineville
(photo courtesy of the Louisiana History Museum)
The Alexander Fulton Bridge carrying the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway over the Red River
(photo contributed by Erik Larson)