Is Dauphin Island (Alabama) awesome? Why does it have a 3 mile bridge?

I noticed that Dauphin Island, where only 1000 people live, nonetheless has an airport and a (presumably very expensive) three mile bridge to the Mainland.

Is it some kind of big tourist place? If not, why did they build a bridge that big when ferries or airplanes would have sufficed? (Martha’s Vineyard has no bridge I think to the mainland, neither does Nantucket).

Only 1000 people, that’s gotta be a high cost per resident just to maintain a bridge of that size. Do those 1000 people have a lot of clout or this like the Southern Nantucket?

No answers for you, but interesting that I was checking this place out on Google Maps yesterday.

No they don’t though they both have airports. And the population is well over 1000. IIRC, 15,000 permanent residents and a summer population of 100,000 on MV alone.

In three weeks, 100,001. :smiley:

It has the Sea Lab and is home to marine research as well as many, many tours for summer camps from young kids to college kids. I am assuming this means lots and lots of traffic. I know about >-< much about marine ecology, but maybe a permanent structure that could fly over into the island was less disruptive than ferries coming in and out to the shore? No idea.

Usually when I hear of people going to Dauphin it is not so much for PCB style partying (which I guess could happen) but more for a learning experience. Hopefully someone with more familiarity with DI will come in shortly but that’s just been the “general feel” of living around people that travel that way every summer.

I can’t comment too much because I’ve only been here a couple months, but there is ferry that goes across to the island. You can pay to have your car shipped across or your bike or just you. I was researching going over there because I was told it’s interesting, but aside from the sealab there doesn’t seem to be anything else there. I don’t know if the sealab gives regular tours, but it seems like it’s a big spot for local schools to have field trips.

How far in advance do you need to make a reservation for your car?

When I was told to go visit it I wasn’t given any indication that I would need to call in advance so I’m going to go with none.

I just asked my boss about it and he says that they don’t, and that there isn’t even a way to, it’s just first come first serve. They have a couple rows though so they can fit more than one or two cars on it

Why the heck would anyone pay to have their car shipped on a ferry when they could just drive across a 3 mile bridge?

I think the ferry is from Gulf Shores, not the mainland. If you drive there from Gulf Shores, it’s about an hour, because you have to backtrack around Mobile. I don’t know how long the ferry ride is (one of the hurricanes had taken it out when I was there in 2004), but at least you can sit back for a while.

Look at a map. It’s a loooong way around.

OK, that sounds like a pretty small ferry. Like the one from MV to Chappaquiddick. The ferry from America to MV you need at least a 3 month reservation unless you’re a resident.

Two days for me :slight_smile:

Sweet! Where are you staying?

At our friends’ house. It makes things much easier for quick trips. :slight_smile:

My friend has a small airplane and we landed on that tiny Dauphin Island airport last week. We walked to the Oarhouse Restaurant for dinner.

AFAIK it is not a tourist haven. As mentioned, more of a plant/animal reserve. We asked our waitress if there is a gas station on the island, she said yes. We asked her the population and she said she had no idea, but she thought there were 3 places that serve food, and a couple of clothing shops.

There were some very upscale looking condos across from our dining spot. And we passed several cute beach homes as we walked from the airport.

If you go, bring bug spray. There were some biting flies or something that could be used as military weapons.

Isn’t Nantucket about 30 miles off the mainland? Why would that be comparable to Dauphin?

Yup, it’s really not a candidate for a bridge.

But Martha’s Vineyard could be connected to the mainland by a roughly 4 mile bridge. Not that it ever would get built, but it’s closer to the situation in AL.

I’ve ridden the ferry from Ft. Morgan to Dauphin Island a few times. It’s a beautiful ride across Mobile Bay. It takes about 45 minutes, and the ferry holds maybe 15 cars. On busy days they run two boats. There’s a number you can call to make sure they’re running - they will close the ferry if there’s too much wind, for instance.

It’s kind of neat to prowl around the Civil War forts on each side, Ft. Morgan and Ft. Gains.

This is not something that we want.

The bridge is free, it’s just a public road. The public beach in the middle of the island is also free. The Estuarium on the east end asks a fee, that is also where the ferry comes in. There is a privately run beach on the west end where you have to pay to park. The public beach in the middle has a bathroom and an outdoor shower. The beach is off-white sand, seems family-oriented to me, very clean and quiet.

It’s about a three hour drive for me, and I love getting there around sunrise. Last month the juvenile skates were up near the beach, you could ‘walk’ with them. Gentle waves, but go out too far and you can get the longshore currents and undertow. No lifeguards.

It’s my favorite place to get away from it all…

I poked around some NOAA charts, and it looks like the water is much shallower between the mainland & Dauphin Island than between the mainland and Martha’s Vineyard. Like a 10 ft. average vs. 60 ft. average. That’s got to have a huge impact on the cost of a bridge.