Assure safe passage across the North Bridge
Charleston County officials have tried to develop a pedestrian/bike lane across the North Bridge linking Charleston and North Charleston, but so far havenít been able to get the state Department of Transportationís approval.
Or even much cooperation, according to one County Council advocate for the project.
ďDOT is completely unreceptive to the idea,Ē says council member Colleen Condon.
Thatís unfortunate, since the hazards of crossing the bridge by bike or foot are evident.
As the photo here shows, the vertical barriers along the narrow center median havenít served to deter those who have limited options to using the bridge ó only to make crossing the bridge more of a challenge.
County administrator Kurt Taylor tells us that the latest proposal submitted to the DOT would have had lane widths reduced to accommodate a bicycle/pedestrian lane on the south side of the bridge.
That would have connected with a sidewalk that is being built all the way from Charles Town Landing to a planned city park adjacent to the bridge.
It sounds like a ready-made solution.
The DOT, however, described the idea as ďinfeasible,Ē Mr. Taylor reports.
But county officials arenít giving up, and are preparing another plan for the DOT. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey is supporting the effort, agreeing to give up an inbound lane of traffic to his city, at least temporarily, Mr. Taylor says.
Troublesome access issues will have to be addressed with any solution. The North Bridge is adjacent to I-26, and gets traffic to and from the interstate.
But the current situation is a hazard that the half-measures provided by the DOT have failed to address.
To its credit, CARTA has offered free transport across the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists, but that requires that they catch the bus on its regular schedule.
Clearly, a bridge linking two major municipalities would not be built today without providing for pedestrians and cyclists. And the bridge continues to be used by pedestrians and cyclists as the only convenient link between West Ashley and North Charleston.
The DOT should work with interested local governments to provide a safe solution, until the time that the functionally obsolete North Bridge can be replaced, recognizing that is still years down the road.
Linking communities across the waterways that separate them is essential, for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as motor vehicles.