All that it needs is a punchline: A bridge over the Wando River on Hwy. 41 is due to be replaced by one that is taller and more expensive than it needs to be. It is also unfriendly to bicyclists and pedestrians and its design overwhelmingly unpopular with the public. It is not what the state Department of Transportation or the local Coast Guard or Berkeley County or some Mount Pleasant officials want.
But plans are to proceed.
Berkeley County Council agreed to move forward for fear that the federal government wouldn't approve the lower, less expensive bridge most people like.
Their concerns didn't come out of thin air. The local Coast Guard officials said it might well happen, and the long-overdue replacement project would be delayed for years.
That would be a pity - and a significant safety hazard. But building the wrong bridge without even trying to reason with the federal authorities would also be a mistake.
Designing the bridge to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians safely should be the easy part. Tom Bradford, director and board chairman of Charleston Moves, said it could be as simple as eliminating the bridge's raised sidewalks and creating a multi-use path similar to the one on the Ravenel Bridge.
Charleston Moves, like many others, also would like to see the height of the bridge changed from 55 feet to 35 feet.
Some will say that long-debated issue is water under the bridge by now, but Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych, Charleston County Councilman Dickie Schweers and state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, are to be commended for soldiering on. They have asked U.S. Sen. Tim Scott to take up the cause in Washington for a 35-foot fixed bridge. Sen. Scott, a fiscal conservative, would do well to join the campaign as soon as possible.
There is general acknowledgement that the 1939 drawbridge across the Wando River on Hwy. 41 needs to be replaced. The Federal Highway Administration's National Bridge Inventory has recommended its replacement for more than 20 years. It hasn't been opened since 2011 for fear it couldn't be closed again.
The replacement has been discussed for years, and it is understandable that officials simply want to move forward.
In order to facilitate things, Berkeley County Council approved a 55-foot-high bridge that will loom large next to the Francis Marion National Forest and be visible from subdivisions miles away.
No one has been able to say what's wrong with a 35-foot-high bridge. That's the height of the Westmoreland Bridge over the commercially navigable Ashley River. The Hwy. 41 bridge crosses the Wando only five miles from where it ends. It would be too low for sailboats with tall masts, but the DOT offered to buy retractable masts for the two sailboat owners who would be affected. Somehow reason keeps failing to prevail.
Meanwhile, many in the Lowcountry remain skeptical about the importance of accommodating bicycles, even though examples abound of bike-friendly areas thriving.
Land in Berkeley County is fast being developed near where the bridge crosses from Charleston County, and with residential development comes more cyclists. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service is encouraging more hiking and biking in the nearby Francis Marion Forest.
Bicycle advocates are wise to make their case now, before designs are approved. And by adding theirs to the voices crying for a 35-foot bridge, they give officials another reason to reconsider the height.
The area that will be served by a new bridge is largely rural still and strikingly beautiful. To mar it with an over-sized structure would be as foolish as accepting an inferior design.
There's still time to regroup and resume a campaign to build a 35-foot bridge that is bicycle friendly. Doing less would be a mistake that would be obvious for decades to come.
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