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 durimg floods.

A series of locks and dam built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have made the Red River navigable through Alexandria.

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.

O.K. Allen Bridge
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 feet

Over the decades traffic levels 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 new Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge.

The O.K. Allen Bridge bridge was imploded into the Red River on September 26, 2015.

Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge

Work on the new 4-lane Curtis Coleman Memorial Bridge to replace the old O.K. Allen Bridge began in early 2011, and will cost $82.8-million. Completion is planned for early 2016.

The first two-lane span opened to traffic on March 17, 2015. Work will now commence on dismantling the O.K. Allen Bridge and constrution of the second span.

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 in Pineville.

Artist drawing of the new Curtis-Coleman Bridge over the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana
Artist drawing of the new Curtis-Coleman Bridge over the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville, Louisiana

The new bridges will each have a minimum 40-foot clear roadway width and carry two lanes of traffic.  The main channel of the Red River will be 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 will be built of weathering steel which does not require painting.  The approach spans will be 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. This will include 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. During the 2014 Louisiana Legislative session, then-Rep. Herbert Dixon got legislation passed to name the bridge after two local black leaders, Lemon Coleman and the late Israel "Bo" Curtis.

Photograph of the Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge under Construction

Curtis-Coleman Memorial Bridge construction, with the old O.K. Allen Bridge in the background (2012)

(photo courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

Fort Buhlow Bridge construction, with the old O.K. Allen Bridge in the background (2012)


Historic Postcards of the Red River in Alexandria and Pineville in Louisiana

O. K. Allen Bridge over the Red River, connecting Pineville and Alexandria, Louisiana

imploded into the Red River on September 26, 2015.

O. K. Allen Bridge over the Red River, connecting Pineville and Alexandria, Louisiana
O. K. Allen Bridge over the Red River, connecting Pineville and Alexandria, Louisiana
O. K. Allen Bridge over the Red River, connecting Pineville and Alexandria, Louisiana