Scared of the I-10 Tunnels?
If you are afraid of driving through tunnels, you are not alone. I once had issues with the George Wallace tunnel in Mobile, AL. I could be a passenger in a car, but not the driver. I would experience a feeling as if I were about to pass out as I made the ascent up the tunnel. I don't have this problem anymore as I treated it with driving often through the tunnel. This was one way I discovered the Bankhead Tunnel, an older, smaller tunnel, through my self treatment of tunnel terror. However, some of you may have your reasons for not going through one. If you read my other hub about avoiding tunnel traffic here, you'll see that the George Wallace tunnel is actually somewhat dangerous due to an engineering design flaw. Many locals take the older Bankhead tunnel because of this and the bottlenecks that occur there. There is hope for you, by taking the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge.
The Cochrane-Africatown Bridge
The Cochrane-Africatown Bridge is how the hazardous trucks reach the Bay Way, which is the higher level bridge across the Mobile Bay. It replaced the older Cochrane bridge in 1991. It was named Africatown due to the community of former slaves that made their home on the Western shore of the Mobile River after the Civil War. They were the cargo of the 1859 illegal slave trade voyage of the Clothilde. The Causeway, on the lower level, is the older highway, but is still accessible and many locals favor it for its safety and general uncrowdedness. The good news about taking the bridge is that you won't go out of your way at all!
Africatown Archaeological Dig
From I-10 Heading EAST
From I-10 Heading EAST: Turn RIGHT just before tunnel on WATER STREET. Stay STRAIGHT on WATER STREET which turns into I-165 EXCHANGE. It's pretty short, maybe 1/4 a mile. Look for the COCHRAN-AFRICATOWN BRIDGE SIGNS.
Take a Right at Cochrane-Africatown signs. Continue straight ahead to nearby bridge.
Go over the short COCHRANE-AFRICATOWN BRIDGE. It will cross the Mobile River & the port of Mobile, in case you wondered. The road becomes the CAUSEWAY, or HWY 90/98!
You will be able to get back onto I-10 halfway across OR when you reach the Eastern Shore, (Spanish Fort area). There is an overpass with a lane that merges into I-10 headed East.
If you miss your turn, you have a chance again at the first light you encounter. Take a RIGHT, you'll go over an overpass that crosses I-10, turn LEFT to get back on.
Crossing the Africatown-Cochrane Bridge From the East Via The Causeway
After you land on the Causeway, you'll see that there are many seafood eateries to enjoy. Some of my favorites are Felix's(somewhat upscale and a GREAT lunch), R & R (for good crawfish), Original Oyster House( for good Po' Boys, which are seafood sandwiches), and Ed's Seafood Shack. Really, all of them are good. You can't go wrong with the BlueGill or Tacky Jack's, either.
Bridge Construction Books
All About Tunnels
From I-10 Heading WEST
From I-10 Heading WEST: Either take last exit off Bay Way to HWY 90/98 or follow Causeway(HWY 90/98).
Instead of turning left at the old Bankhead tunnel, which was finished in 1941, you'll continue straight heading towards the cable bridge you should see in the distance.
You'll come off the bridge and see the overhead I-165 overpass. This interstate connects with either I-10(LEFT) or I-65(RIGHT). Come to light and take a LEFT if you are heading to I-10. Take a RIGHT if you need to head towards Montgomery, AL. There won't be many cars on it.
To I-10, STAY STRAIGHT & you'll end suddenly on WATER STREET (it floods during hurricanes, hence the name!) , STAY STRAIGHT and you'll soon see signs for PASCAGOULA, MS (WEST I-10). Take a RIGHT at the signs.
Dora Finley Discusses Africatown
After avoiding the tunnels, explore downtown Mobile, if you have some time. Start on Dauphin Street, where the majority of restaurants and shops are. Parking is easily available; after 5 p.m. and on weekends, it's free! One of my favorites is Wintzell's Oyster House on Dauphin Street, which is a famous oyster eatery since the early 1900s. The walls are plastered with funny sayings that have been collected since the beginning. Spot of Tea, on Cathedral Square, is a popular lunchtime eatery featuring English-style tea-time food. The Battle House hotel's Trellis Room is a lovely respite.
How to Cure Phobias
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
While you may want some relief from your tunnel phobia, I'm happy to report that it can be cured. Every day try to add a little bit of tunnel time to your day, and you'll soon beat it. When my tunnel phobia began, it really took me by surprise, but I was not willing to let it beat me or change my life. I tried driving through the smaller, older Bankhead Tunnel and that lessened the symptoms; over time, it went away completely. Today, I drove through the George C. Wallace tunnel while doing research for this article and I felt....nothing! While I'm glad to share other options of travelling with you, let it be a brief relief from the phobia, not a lifetime one. Today, I'm tunnel phobia free, and I know you can be too.