Bicycle activists should wait on a new Ashley River bridge

Bicycle activists should wait on a new Ashley River bridge
March 18 14:51 2018 Print This Article

Bicyclist activists, led by the well-funded non-profit Charleston Moves, have been clamoring for years for public funding for a bicycle path connecting West Ashley and downtown Charleston across the Ashley River. The $18 Million bicycle bridge project supported by the City of Charleston appears doomed now that the federal government has turned down a $12 Million grant request. The activists should support an effort to replace the two existing Ashley River draw bridges with an arched bridge with a bicycle and pedestrian path in its design.

The two existing bridges are clearly aging. The three-lane World War I Memorial Bridge was completed in 1926. The four-lane Allen T. Legare Bridge was completed in 1961. Why not come up with a plan to replace them with an eight-lane structure than includes a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path?

It is unclear how many bicyclists would be be commuting from West Ashley into downtown on a daily basis. Certainly not enough to justify a $18 Million stand-alone structure. They can currently safely walk their bicycles across on the sidewalks. They also have the option to mount their bicycles on CARTA buses with downtown routes.

Charleston County committed $3 Million to the bicycle bridge project with funds from the 1% transportation sales tax. The City of Charleston committed $1.5 Million for the project. That funding should be re-committed to engineering improvements recommended in the Church Creek Drainage Basin Study report. It is more than enough to construct a reservoir north of the Village Green subdivision and divert the flow into the Ashley River. That project would protect thousands of homes from flooding damage.