Charleston County Unveils Alternatives for Ashley River Pedestrian Bridge | News
NORTH CHARLESTON – A pedestrian bridge connecting West Ashley and North Charleston could cost between $ 25 million and $ 60 million and give walkers and cyclists enough room to avoid the dangerous walk they currently face crossing the North Bridge.
Residents got a first glimpse on December 15 of the three alternatives for the Better North Bridge Project, which would establish a 14- to 16-foot-wide bridge on the east side of the current WWII Memorial Bridge, also known as name of The North Bridge. The cheapest is a stripped-down model; the more expensive would sweep pedestrians off Interstate 26, where a series of dangerous intersections is a constant threat.
Five people have been killed along the existing bridge, which crosses the Ashley River, in collisions with pedestrians or cyclists since 2017.
The three alternatives connect the proposed bridge to the existing Northbridge Park on the West Ashley side of the North Bridge. They are also creating a shared-use path between the new bridge and Azalea Drive on the North Charleston side.
Part of the purpose of the meeting was to solicit comments from the public.
“We want to know what the surrounding communities want and how they are going to use it,” said Sheila Parker, project manager.
The first alternative of the project offers two routes. A route takes walkers and cyclists from the new bridge over the Ashley River Marsh to Harvey Street near The Bend Park, before joining Azalea Drive. The other route goes in the opposite direction towards the city of Charleston and connects to Speisseger Drive before going under Interstate 26 in the neck area.
The county estimates the plan would cost between $ 30 million and $ 35 million.
“It’s not as direct a route as the other two,” she said. “We always try to connect in the same vicinity of these neighborhoods.”
The second alternative passes under the pedestrian bridge and over the Ashley River Marsh. It crosses four I-26 ramps before ending at Azalea Drive. Signs would be installed to order cars to stop for pedestrians and cyclists on the ramps.
The estimated cost of this proposal is $ 25-30 million.
The third alternative rises above I-26 using a combination of ramps, bridges, and elevators before ending at Azalea Drive.
This alternative is expected to be the most expensive, between $ 55 million and $ 60 million.
“People come off these ramps pretty quickly,” Parker said. “It’s a safe alternative, but it costs a lot more money.”
The county town hall meeting on December 15 was held at the Lowcountry Food Bank in North Charleston. A video presentation provided an overview of the project, which aims to improve bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and promote recreational opportunities for surrounding communities.
Four stations included visual display panels delineating the alternatives. County project managers answered questions and explained the various alternatives to residents. About an hour after the start of the event, around 50 people attended the three-hour drop-in.
“I think we had a great turnout,” Parker said.
The county developed the alternatives based on contributions from surrounding communities, the cities of North Charleston and Charleston, and the state Department of Transportation.
Oscar Wright, president of the Dorchester Terrace neighborhood association, attended the meeting. He prefers the first alternative, which keeps cyclists and walkers away from the highway. He believes that forcing cyclists to cross the ramps of I-26 poses safety concerns.
“It’s going to be as dangerous as if you didn’t have a cycle lane,” he said.
Wright is happy that biker safety is being addressed at the North Bridge. He saw people risking their lives trying to walk in the structure.
The raised median of the bridge has posts that attempt to discourage people from walking on the platform. However, pedestrians often try to bypass the posts to get to the other side of the bridge.
“Sometimes they try to push their bikes through (the poles),” Wright said.
Charleston County will accept public comment until February 11. Residents can submit their comments through the project website at www.betternorthbridge.com/publicmeeting, or by emailing the project team at [email protected]
Written comments can be sent by mail to: Better Northbridge Project c / o Reveer Group, 2971 West Montague Avenue, Suite 101 North Charleston, SC 29418.
A second town hall meeting is scheduled for January 12 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Westminster, located at 1157 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. in West Ashley.
To reach Rickey dennis at 937-4886. Follow him on Twitter @RCDJunior.