Highway 41 bridge options limited
A South Carolina Department of Transportation representative confirmed for me that due to excessive construction costs, neither a bascule bridge nor any other movable-style bridge to replace the Highway 41 bridge over the Wando is still an option. The project will not move forward until all parties involved (i.e., U.S. Coast Guard, Town of Mount Pleasant, Berkeley County) agree on the height of the new bridge. The alternative would be to instead perform necessary repairs to the existing bridge.
A USCG representative estimated construction costs for a bascule bridge at $22 million in excess of a fixed span, and there would be ongoing costs to maintain it. All parties were scheduled to meet on July 19 to come to a resolution on the height.
This same USCG representative confirmed that at the last town hall meeting on this matter, during the tenure of former Mayor Harry Hallman, Mount Pleasant Town Council proposed a second option (the bascule bridge being their first) of a fixed-span bridge no higher than 35 feet. The USCG countered with a compromise of 55 feet, 10 feet lower than what they originally proposed.
A structure lower than 55 feet would negatively impact the appraised value and desirability of all homes (not just those situated on waterfront lots) up the Wando River, inasmuch as a lower bridge would hinder the size and height of boats capable of navigating under it. This would affect homebuyers whose boats could not pass under a bridge less than 55 feet high. As homes with deep water access lose value, so in turn do those farther inland.
All of the property on both sides of the Highway 41 bridge is in Berkeley County. However, Berkeley County personnel tell me that Charleston Mayor Joe Riley has had all of the Berkeley County property in and around the Wando Bridge annexed into the City of Charleston.
A map of the Cainhoy peninsula area shows that the annexed area is double the size of the Charleston peninsula. This annexation has not been widely publicized, and Mayor Joe Riley has been uncharacteristically quiet on the Highway 41 bridge issue.
Where’s Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails on the issue?
Should we view him as being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the wishes of Mayor Riley?
Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force (Retired)