Bottlenecks have a big part in changing the landscape of the city.
The bascule bridge replaced the small wooden structure across Hall’s Bayou. The Harbor Bridge was designed to eliminate the traffic jams caused by the bascule bridge. But there was another bridge that also figured into the plan to relieve the congestion from Corpus Christi to North Beach: the Tule Lake Lift Bridge.
Located about 3.5 miles into the upper harbor at the Port of Corpus Christi, the lift bridge was in operation for just under 50 years, allowing road and rail traffic to access the north side of the port at Navigation Boulevard.
The span could be raised 140 feet above the channel, and the two support towers were 190 feet tall. The lift bridge was completed the same year as the Harbor Bridge, welcoming the first traffic in July 1959 while Harbor Bridge was completed in October.
The German ship Domsheide earned the distinction of being the first oceangoing vessel to pass under the lift bridge on July 16, 1959. The vessel was also the first ship to dock at the new bulk cargo dock. Vehicle traffic began crossing the lift bridge in early October after federal officials ordered another outdated structure, the swing barge bridge near Avery Point, removed if the port wanted the Tule Lake channel to be widened. Officials sped up the removal process and by Oct. 12 the swing bridge was gone.
The lift bridge is gone now; cracks in the shafts and sheaves which made up the pulley system forced the port to close the bridge to vehicle traffic in 2006. When the Joe Fulton International Trade Corridor opened in 2007 rail traffic also stopped using the bridge.
In 2008, the span was removed and the upper support towers demolished with explosives. Ten years later, the last pieces of the bridge — foundation piers, abutments and fender systems — were removed via four rounds of controlled underwater explosives, wrapping up in February 2018.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally published Feb. 11, 2016.
Allison Ehrlich writes about things to do in South Texas and has a weekly Throwback Thursday column on local history. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe