Amidst interminable discussions on reconfiguring the T. Allen Legare Bridge over the Ashley River to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, its elder sibling, which will turn 90 in December, has received short shrift, or none at all.
Recent strolls across its considerably broader four-foot sidewalks reveal that what The News and Courier celebrated in the ’20s as a “magnificent structure of massed concrete,” the “handsomest [bridge] in the South,” is in remarkably good condition topside, including the metal plaques at either end.
One set features the standard political self-congratulation of the would-be great of all ages and cultures, the members of the long defunct Charleston County Sanitary and Drainage Commission, among other notables, still enjoying the fickle immortality of Ozymandias, king of kings, or of John P. Grace for that matter. His fabled monument now graces the sea floor, a fitting habitat for fishes.
The second pair is profound and poignant: “Ashley River Memorial Bridge a tribute to those South Carolinians who, serving their country, gave their lives in the World War.” It’s a shame the latter can’t be appreciated except by pedestrians.
But our highway department brain trust has remedied that in signature green and white in an astounding tour de force of hubris, managing with admirable brevity to rewrite both history and the dictionary: “Ashley River Memorial Bridge honoring World War I veterans.” We’ve obviously been misinformed that the veterans are those who survive the war.
And these fine folks expect us to entrust them with how many billions of dollars to fix our crumbling roads and bridges? Caveat emptor.