A low-slung S.C. Highway 41 drawbridge will be built over the Wando River instead of a 55-foot-tall fixed span, the state

Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

"We've going with the moveable span," said Tony Fallaw, DOT program manager.

Right-of-way acquisition for a new bridge parallel to the existing 69-year-old bridge will begin in the winter to spring of next year. Construction is expected to begin in late 2012 and last about two years, Fallaw said.

The existing bridge is structurally deficient and obsolete but not unsafe. It's not worth rehabilitating, Fallaw said.

A new bridge will cost $40 million with 80 percent of the cost paid by the federal government. The remaining 20 percent will be funded through the state, Fallaw said.

Environmentalists worried that a tall fixed-span bridge would open the upper reaches of the Wando River to development. Phil Hardwick of Bulls Bay Outdoor Outfitters said he was pleased with the decision to build a bridge with the so-called "bascule" design. A bascule can be either a single-leaf or dual-leaf design (see photos).

"The bascule is the way to go. Nobody really wanted a tall bridge anyway," he said.

As currently designed, the new bridge would have a 14-foot vertical clearance. It would open on demand with 12-hours notice. The current bridge is cranked open manually on 24-hours notice.

Read more in tomorrow's editions of The Post and Courier.