VIDEO: Retired Railroad Bridge Comes to Van De Graaff Park
The Tuscaloosa Van De Graaff Park & Arboretum has become the new home of a decommissioned railroad bridge. The Fayette County staple sat in the same spot for 40 years over the North River until it was retired and Tuscaloosa County purchased it.
Van De Graaff Park was already home to Alabama's oldest iron bridge, and Gary Minor, the Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority, said this is just another piece of history for the hidden gem to host.
"It's a beautiful bridge to have here in Tuscaloosa," said Minor. "Van De Graaff is a beautiful place already, and this is going to hopefully get a lot of new visitors interested in the park."
The process started well over two years ago when Tuscaloosa PARA initially requested to purchase the bridge.
Since then, Minor said it has been an arduous process - the 80-ton, 75-foot long bridge required massive cranes to maneuver, and PARA must replace its wooden planking before anyone passes over it.
The auto and pedestrian bridge will connect two major pieces of land in the park, one leading into a developed campground that was previously only accessible by foot. Minor says he expects a lot more traffic from casual campers who prefer to bring their cars to a campsite for a more robust setup.
Minor said his best estimate is that the bridge restoration would be finished in the next couple of months. And click the video below to see a time-lapse of the bridge's placement, courtesy of Minor and PARA.