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CSX - Big Bayou Canot Bridge

Photo 

1993 Sunset Limited Wreck

Photo taken by NTSB

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BH Photo #290813

Map 

Essay 

Written by Zachary S

This bridge, or more technically its swing span predecessor, was the site of the deadly Amtrak Sunset Limited crash in 1993, caused by a towboat pilot making a navigational error in dense fog and striking the bridge with one of the barges it was pushing. This led to the span's shifting by three feet and a severe kinking of the track (but not breakage, which would have triggered a warning and perhaps prevented the incident) The Sunset Limited shortly thereafter reached the bridge at full speed and was immediately thrown from the rails as the locomotive smashed into the superstructure of the bridge. The ensuing fiery disaster killed 47 people, 42 of whom were passengers. It remains the deadliest accident in Amtrak's history.

Facts 

Overview
Through truss bridge over Big Bayou Canot on single railroad track
Location
Mobile County, Alabama
Status
Open to traffic
History
Non-truss spans built in 1993 as a replacement for swing bridge destroyed in barge collision/train derailment
Railroads
- Amtrak (AMTK)
- CSX Railroad (CSX)
- Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N; LN)
Design
Through-truss main span, with a plate girder approach span
Approximate latitude, longitude
+30.81703, -87.99343   (decimal degrees)
30°49'01" N, 87°59'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/404978/3409746 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Hurricane
Inventory number
BH 42422 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Categories 

Alabama (884)
Amtrak (444)
Beam (13,551)
CSX Railroad (1,329)
Deck girder (4,897)
Disaster (11)
Girder (8,835)
Louisville & Nashville Railroad (172)
Mobile County, Alabama (24)
Open (37,871)
Owned by railroad (10,780)
Plate girder (6,732)
Railroad (14,137)
Steel stringer (5,342)
Struck by watercraft (15)
Through truss (13,559)
Truss (30,502)
Warren through truss (1,521)
Warren truss (6,001)

Update Log 

  • August 6, 2014: New photo from Luke
  • December 3, 2013: Essay added by Zachary S

Sources 

Comments 

CSX - Big Bayou Canot Bridge
Posted April 16, 2016, by Michael Taylor

National Geographic posted their fantastic Seconds from Disaster episode on this disaster, on their official youtube channel. https://youtu.be/sJMOghxT0AE Fog was a factor, and the bridges non functioning swing span was not only never used, it was never bolted down either.