It is time to replace the aging Northbridge

It is time to replace the aging Northbridge
June 02 16:26 2020 Print This Article

On May 27 just before 5 am, a bicyclist collided with a car on the Northbridge and died shortly thereafter. It didn’t take long for the bicycle activist group Charleston Moves to call for a lane of traffic to be blocked off or that the government fund a special bicycle lane to improve bicycle safety. The bridge was built in 1955 to connect West Ashley and North Charleston, and it is not in great condition. It is time to replace the aging bridge and design a new one that includes a bicycle and pedestrian path.

In 2019, a federal grant funded much of the cost of a bicycle bridge from West Ashley to Downtown Charleston near the round Holiday Inn. Charleston County Council authorized at least $4 million in transportation sales tax funds for the $22 million project and will be obligated to pay for cost overruns. There is no guarantee that a federal grant will be available for the Northbridge project. When Charleston County voters approved the $2.1 billion transportation sales tax in 2016, $1.3 billion was allocated for roads. There was never a discussion of that money going for bicycle projects.

Given the age and condition of the Northbridge, replacing it makes sense for driver safety, as well as bicycle safety. My state legislators, Senator Sandy Senn and Representative Lin Bennett are working with SCDOT to make the bridge a priority project. It makes no sense to allocate county transportation sales tax money for a stand-alone bicycle bridge. The bridge is on a state road, and the state should make the replacement a priority. In the interim, a water taxi could be established to transport cyclists from West Ashley to North Charleston. Non-profit groups could raise money to help poor bicyclists pay the fee.