Charleston County and the city are interested in removing one lane of traffic from the northbound Ashley River drawbridge and putting a bike and pedestrian lane in its place.

The next step is asking if the state will agree to such a plan.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said he and county officials will go to Columbia on Aug. 31 to present their new bike-lane study to S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Robert St. Onge.

The state's approval is necessary before any local government can proceed with work to design and finance a new bike and pedestrian path on the state-owned bridge.

Currently, there's no estimate of its cost -- or any firm decision on its approaches or what sort of barrier would separate cyclists and walkers from cars and trucks. It's unclear if the public would approach the bridge from a new boardwalk over the Ashley River's western marsh or on new sidewalks or paths along Albemarle and Folly roads.

It's also unclear when a public hearing might be held on the project. While some local officials are in favor, some residents are not.

County Councilwoman Colleen Condon said it will be important to convince the public the path is a win-win, since a new study shows it would have a minimal impact on traffic going from West Ashley to downtown.

"There are folks who go, 'What? You can't take my road,' and those folks aren't likely to get out on their bikes," she said, "but other people are more likely to get out cycling and walking

(if the path were built)."

Riley said he is committed to making the change, calling it "a wonderful gift to the citizens of our community." County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor called the study's results "very good news."

Meanwhile, the project likely will move forward as a hybrid city-county-state project, said Hernan Pena, director of the city's Department of Traffic and Transportation. "It's kind of a new approach, but I think it has a greater opportunity for success."

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.