Ashley River exit ramp work beginning

Traffic on the Ashley River Bridge heading into Charleston.

The first work on the Ashley River Bridge Bike-Pedestrian improvement is set to start Friday, and motorists exiting the bridge onto Bee Street might see some delays at night.

This first phase does not involve bikes — only widening the exit ramp to Lockwood Drive and Bee Street from one to two lanes. The work is expected to take about 45 days.

Once that’s done, the county then is expected to erect temporary barricades on the far right lane of the northbound U.S. Highway 17 bridge, then measure how the lane’s loss affects traffic.

The work might involve shoulder closures on the Lockwood exit ramp between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., but lane closures will occur only between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., county spokesman Shawn Smetana said.

The idea of converting one of the bridge’s four lanes to bike and pedestrian use has raised a ruckus and was a talking point during Charleston’s last mayoral campaign.

Cycling advocates have listed the project as their No. 1 local priority, but congestion-weary motorists dislike the move. While traffic studies show the change would cause only a few seconds of delays — and then only during rush hour — they say the delays will grow as traffic does.

Those with questions about the project can call 843-202-6140.

Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.