Charleston, South Carolina – Just days after a bicyclist was killed on the northbound side of Ashley Bridge, officials presented their future plans for new, safer way of commute connection between downtown Charleston and West Ashley.
According to the plan, the current Ashley Bridge will become Ashley River Crossing bridge. City officials say that it will be a standalone bridge designed just for bikers and walkers, way safer than now.
The negative side is that the plan itself is years away as the project is in very early stages.
“These bridges are not safe to walk or bike over. Some of us do it because we have to, but it’s not safe,” said resident Katie Zimmerman.
Zimmerman only uses her bicycle as a daily drive and she hasn’t owned a car in years. However, she doesn’t feel safe riding her bike around especially the Ashley Bridge.
“Right now, we have to navigate to share the space,” Zimmerman said. “It’s not wide enough for two people to pass by each other but it’s sort of the only option unless you want to get into the lane of traffic which to me is terrifying on these bridges.”
City officials shared some early stages designs of the project on Monday. It’s slated to go up right next to the existing Legare Bridge with room to swing open so boats can pass underneath.
“It’s an interesting progression of design,” said Jason Kronsberg, the city’s Director of Parks. “You have the World War 1 bridge on the left, you have the Legare Bridge which is a little bit more modern and then you have our bridge, the Ashley River Crossing Bridge to the right so it’s an interesting progression of design there.”
He added that at least three other intersections require improvements in order people to easily and safely get to and from the bridge. He also added that some changes might be required on the actual bridge, but the scope of the project will remain the same.
“There will be a path that will be on the road but it’ll be separated along the marsh, so you’ll have a lovely view and then that’ll get you to the bridge, the new separate bridge which will be just below, just south of the existing bridges,” said Zimmerman. “I believe it’s going to be 18-feet wide so wider than wonders way on the Ravenel Bridge which we’ve all learned is not enough space because it’s so popular. So, 18-feet, a lot of space, car free space for people to walk and bike and use their motorized wheelchairs and everything else.”
The project will last 2-3 years. City leaders said the construction of the new bridge should start in late 2022 or early 2023.