Every driver in the Lowcountry was asking the same question Thursday:
Who is Don Holt and why in the @#!! didn't he put more lanes on his bridge?
OK, some people also may have wondered why the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge was closed for the SECOND CONSECUTIVE DAY.
After all, the last bit of sleet fell Wednesday morning - and it was promptly melted in mid-air by the light from a Weather Channel camera.
"We had nearly 24 hours without any precipitation," state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis noted Thursday. "They had all day and all night to clear the bridge. It just seems like it could have been done faster."
Yeah, it could have been done faster by a couple of guys with hair dryers and a really long extension cord.
Instead, Day Two of Bridgegate left I-526 jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. And a lot of them just turned around and went back to Mount Pleasant. They obviously weren't born to wait.
You know, when a glancing blow from a winter storm can cause this kind of problem, it's easy to get the feeling that we just aren't built for this stuff.
And perhaps the Ravenel Bridge isn't either.
Now, all the state and local officials were playing nice Thursday.
The blame game was strictly behind the scenes, where it apparently went down like this: Local officials got to make the call on whether to open the bridge, but they wanted to base their decision on a state Department of Transportation recommendation.
And the engineers were not about to guarantee everything was safe. Despite their best efforts, on Thursday afternoon the bridge still had some patches of slush on it.
Which should come as no surprise - Upstate lawmakers have said for years that the entire bridge was built out of slush.
When they finally did open the Ravenel Bridge, just after 3 p.m., police cars drove back and forth across it with their blue lights on. And under the towers, particularly on the southbound side, it did in places look like the Licious Lemon Limecicle Slush Puppie truck had turned over.
The problem here is, of course, that bridges ice faster than roads. It's the concrete, it's the fact that cold air blows under and over them. It's a problem to just use sand.
And it's just our luck that you can't go anywhere around here without a bridge.
It's pretty bad when The Citadel has to cancel night classes, not because of the weather, but because of the potential for a bridge closure.
That's why someone has to figure out how to fix this occasional problem.
State Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, says he expects DOT and local officials to get together soon and talk about how to handle bridge issues more quickly in the future.
And if they don't, he will ask them to get together.
"Safety is important, and should be the priority, but we need to try and make sure this doesn't happen again," Grooms says.
Funny thing is, this is the first time we've faced icing on the Ravenel Bridge since it opened nearly nine years ago. Obviously, it doesn't take to it well.
Now state DOT folks have to figure out how to remedy this because, honestly, it's been a disaster. The bridge is still closed to walkers, joggers and bikers, so every day the state does nothing, people are gaining weight.
If something doesn't give, we are going to have to move the Cooper River Bridge Run to the Edgewater Park bridge. They'll just have to run back and forth across it about 75 times.
Bottom line is, 43 hours without the Ravenel Bridge is not acceptable.
There are only two choices here: We either figure out how to de-ice the bridge quicker or just rename it the "Atlanta Parkway" and head for Home Depot.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way, Don Holt was a state legislator from North Charleston. And he would have probably welcomed more lanes on his bridge.
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